There are now 67 confirmed cases of measles in an outbreak centered in California, health officials said.
The California Department of Public Health said there are now 59 cases in the state – 42 that have been directly linked to being at Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park in December. Some people visited Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park while infectious in January.
The 59 patients in California range in age from 7 months to 70 years. The vaccination status is known for 34 of the patients. Of those, 28 were unvaccinated, one had received partial vaccination and five were fully vaccinated.
Nine counties in California have confirmed measles cases: Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Ventura. Cases connected to visiting Disneyland have also been confirmed in Utah (3), Washington state (2), Oregon (1), Colorado (1) and Mexico (1).
Healthcare officials said it is safe to go Disneyland and other venues with large crowds if you are immunized for measles. “I think it is absolutely safe for you to go to Disneyland if you’re vaccinated,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, the state epidemiologist.
But he cautioned that people who are too young to be immunized – such as infants less than 6 months of age – avoid large crowds where international travelers are concentrated, like theme parks and airports.
“I would recommend that infants are not taken to places like Disneyland today,” Chavez said.
Federal recommendations call for the first dose of measles vaccination, known as MMR, be given at 12 to 15 months of age, and a second between ages 4 to 6. California law requires two doses of measles vaccination before kindergartners can enroll, but parents can get exemptions for the vaccines if they say the inoculations conflict with their personal beliefs.
“Today I am asking unvaccinated Californians to consider getting immunized,” Chavez said. “We have a particular responsibility to protect all of our infants in the state until they are old enough to be vaccinated.”
Of the cases in California, one in four sickened have had to be hospitalized.
Symptoms of measles include fever as high as 105, cough, runny nose, redness of eyes, and a rash that begins at the head and then spreads to the rest of the body. It can lead to inflammation of the brain, pneumonia, and death.