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L.A. County child has measles, officials warn

Times Staff Writer

A preschool-age child in Los Angeles County has been hospitalized with measles, and public health officials Monday urged parents and physicians to be on alert for the highly contagious disease. It is the first case reported in the county since 2006.

The child had not been vaccinated against measles, said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s public health director.

The virus is spread by sneezing and coughing. Symptoms include a rash, coughing, a runny nose and red, watery eyes.

Complications occur in about 20% of reported cases and can include diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, brain inflammation and seizures.

“A lot of parents may not really have any knowledge that it can be a very serious disease,” Fielding said. “This is not like getting a cold.”

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The county’s last case of childhood measles occurred in an unvaccinated child who had contracted the virus outside of the United States, Fielding said. The county is still investigating the origin of the new case.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a combined vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella between ages12 months and 15 months, with a booster between ages 4 and 6. All states require proof of vaccination before a child can enter school, but California and some other states allow “personal belief” exemptions, used increasingly in recent years, Fielding said.

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mary.engel@latimes.com


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