Just when you thought the measles outbreak couldn't get any worse, news of another major flare up was announced today. And it's affecting one of the highest populated cities in the nation. That's right, a measles outbreak confirmed in Los Angeles has health authorities concerned that the number of cases will rise to record-breaking heights.
After five confirmed cases, as well as one transmission case, public health officials declared a measles outbreak within Los Angeles county, according to KTLA News Los Angeles.
Four of the patients were connected and traveled out of the country together. The other contracted measles when traveling over seas, according to a statement from the Department of Public Health. This means there is an increased risk of measles exposure within Los Angeles County at this time.
The one thing they all had in common? Most were unvaccinated.
“We will likely see additional measles cases in Los Angeles County, so it is important if you or someone you know has the symptoms of measles or has been exposed to measles to contact your healthcare provider by phone right away before seeking treatment,” Muntu Davis, M.D., MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer said in a statement.
And health officials say, vaccines are the best defense.
“The best way to protect yourself and to prevent the spread of measles is to get the measles immunization, with two doses of measles immunization being about 97 percent effective at preventing measles,” he said.
If you or a member of your family is not fully vaccinated, now would be the time.
The measles are tricky because infected people can be contagious well before they show any symptoms. In fact, they are contagious four days before the typical measles rash appears, and then four days afterwards, according to the Center for Disease Control.
The virus can live up to two hours on surfaces and in the air where an infected person coughed or sneezed.
As explained by the Mayo Clinic, the disease still kills about 1,000 people a year. Symptoms include runny nose, dry cough, conjunctivitis, fever, and a rash that develops first on the head and moves its way down the body.
The danger comes in the possible complications associated with the virus including pneumonia, ear infections, dehydration, encephalitis, and even blindness, according to Healthline.
As for those who are not vaccinated, about 90 percent of those people will develop measles within 7 to 10 days of exposure, said to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.
The current Los Angeles outbreak is bringing back memories of the Disneyland outbreak of 2015, when 35 people, including 14 children, where infected with the meales virus, according to LA Times.
Unlike today's outbreak, the source was never discovered.
So what happens when public health officials identify a person with measles? That person is then quarantined for up to 21 days and subject to a blood test, as per The National Institute of Health.
Thanks to the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine, measles was thought to be eradicated in 2000, but since then there's been hundreds of cases, according to KTLA Los Angeles. Right now 626 cases have been reported since January 1.
Twenty two states, including New York, New Jersey, Washington state, Michigan and Northern California, have declared outbreaks. All of them started with exposure from unvaccinated travelers, according to Newsweek.
With all the recent confirmed measles cases through out the United States, it looks as if the virus shows no signs of slowing down. Remember, cleanliness can pay off. Wash your hands and use sanitizer. But, most importantly get your vaccinations.