Several employees at Disneyland have been diagnosed with measles, health officials confirmed Tuesday, as the total number of measles cases in the California-centered outbreak rose to 53.
Two of those employees had been vaccinated, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. Health officials are still investigating whether the other workers have documentation of measles immunization.
Disneyland officials said five employees have been diagnosed with measles since Thursday, and all employees who could’ve been in contact with those five have been asked to provide vaccination records or do a blood test that shows they’ve built immunity to the disease.
Any of those employees who had not been vaccinated or could not confirm their immunity status have been asked to go on paid leave until their status could be confirmed, Disneyland officials said.
Three of the five employees have been treated and medically cleared. Park officials have been working closely with health officials and putting their employees on alert.
“As soon as the OC Health Care Agency notified us on January 7, we immediately began to communicate to our Cast to raise awareness,” Dr. Pamela Hymel, Chief Medical Officer, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement. “In an abundance of caution, we also offered vaccinations and immunity tests.”
Orange County health officials confirmed two more measles cases Tuesday, bringing the total number in the county to 18.
A measles outbreak was traced to people at the theme park who visited between Dec. 17 and 20. Since then, the highly contagious disease has spread across California, three other states and Mexico. The virus has begun infecting people beyond those who visited the theme park and is now in the broader community, officials say.
Orange County health officials directed about two dozen Huntington Beach High School students who had no proof of measles vaccination to be barred from classes until Jan. 29 after an infected student came to class this month.
Students can remain in school by showing a record of vaccination or through a blood test that shows they've built immunity to the disease, according to the county Department of Education.
The rapid spread of measles is what experts have feared. Health officials generally hope a measles outbreak can be contained within a manageable group of people and eventually extinguished by keeping the ill at home or in a hospital room until they recover, with the outbreak eventually being stopped by the broader community of vaccinated people.
But with vaccination rates falling off over the last several years, the virus appears to be spreading.