Measles: State total rises by one case, but no slowdown in outbreak

California #measles total rises by one, but no slowdown in 'unpredictable' outbreak

California added one more confirmed measles case over the weekend, but state public health officials have warned that it’s premature to declare a slowdown in an outbreak that has spread to 10 counties, seven states and Mexico.

The one confirmed case since Friday was in Orange County, bringing the county’s total to 28 and the statewide total to 92 cases, according to the California Department of Public Health.

"This may be an indication that the outbreak is slowing, but outbreaks of measles and other infectious disease are unpredictable in their course," said state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez.

But, he said, fewer confirmed cases "is always preferable."

Each case triggers a process called a "contact investigation," where those potentially exposed to measles are identified and notified of their risk for the disease, Chavez said. 

Medication, vaccines and even quarantine are all on the table. The latest quarantine was placed Monday on 14 infants enrolled at a child-care center on the Santa Monica High School campus.

The Samohi Infant/Toddler Center infant room was closed until further notice by state health officials because a child younger than 12 months old -- too young to be vaccinated -- was diagnosed with measles, said Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker.

The district first learned about the measles case Saturday and contacted parents over the weekend about the center's closure.

The measles case is the second one confirmed on the high school campus in recent weeks. The first case involved a school baseball coach.

The children at the high school's day-care center range in age from 6 weeks to 3 years. Most are related to school staffers; three are the children of students.

The toddler room, which hosts 12 children, will be closed through Thursday and a tentative reopening is planned for Friday, Pinsker said. Before reentry, children in the toddler group will have to provide a document from a doctor that shows they’ve had their blood checked to ensure immunizations they have had will provide immunity to measles.

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FOR THE RECORD

Feb. 3, 1:07 p.m.A earlier version of this article stated that before reentry to the Samohi Infant/Toddler Center in the wake of a measles case, children in the toddler group will have to provide a document from a doctor that they've been immunized. They will have to provide a document from a doctor that shows they’ve had their blood checked to ensure immunizations they have had will provide immunity to measles.

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Among students at the high school, 7% have waivers, for personal or religious beliefs or for medical reasons, that excuse them from the state-required MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

There are 11.5% students district-wide with waivers, a decrease from 14.8% the year before, Pinsker said.

"We are seeing more incoming kindergartners whose parents have chosen to immunize their students," Pinsker said. "And some of our current students have gone off waiver."

About a week and a half ago, a freshman baseball coach was diagnosed with the virus. He is a walk-on coach and not a teacher or staff member of the high school, Pinsker said. It was determined the coach had come into contact with only about 70 baseball players, all of whom had received their immunizations.

In recent weeks, the district has sent out communications to families encouraging them to get their children immunized if they haven't already, Pinsker said.

Of the confirmed measles cases in the state, 59 can be linked to visitors or employees at Disneyland or those who came in contact with them over the holidays.

Cases connected to the California-centered outbreak have been confirmed in Arizona (five), Utah (three), Washington state (two), Michigan (one), Oregon (one), Colorado (one), Nebraska (one) and Mexico (two).

The 10 California counties with confirmed measles cases: Los Angeles, Alameda, Marin, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Ventura.

Times staff writers Rosanna Xia and Lauren Raab contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

8:38 p.m.: This post has been updated throughout with comments from state officials about the unpredictability of the outbreak.

5:15 p.m.: This post has been updated to add Monday's number of California measles cases.

4:04 p.m.: This post has been updated with further details about the number of infants quarantined.

The first version of this post was published at 12:06 p.m.

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