Los Angeles residents urged to be fully immunized against measles
Hundreds of students and faculty at two Los Angeles universities have been quarantined after potentially being exposed to measles, according to university and Los Angeles County health officials.
The reports are among the most recent in the U.S. where a total of 695 measles cases from 22 states have been reported by the Centers for Disease and Control as of Wednesday, April 24. The total hasn’t been this high since the highly contagious disease was deemed eradicated in the country in 2000.
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) said on Wednesday that a student had attended classes at the UCLA Franz Hall and Boelter Hall while contagious on April 2, 4, and 9. Over 500 students and staff who may have been in contact or exposed to the student were immediately notified.
Common symptoms of the highly contagious virus include fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis (red eyes) and a rash, which usually appears 10 to 21 days after the exposure.
As of Thursday, the number of individuals quarantined went down from Wednesday’s reported 119 students to 76 students, and down from eight to six faculty members.
“We expect the trend to continue as more people provide proof of immunization or are shown by tests to have immunity to measles,” UCLA said in a statement on Thursday.
The university said that while the quarantine is expected to last between one to two days for most, some may remain quarantined and cared for on campus for up to seven days.
“I want to assure you that campus epidemiologists and top health experts have been working very closely with local public health officials to ensure that notifications are made and proper care is provided to all who might be affected,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block in a statement.
He added that given the amount of time that has elapsed since the last possible exposure to the infected individual, the period during which symptoms usually appear is soon to pass and the highest risk period for contracting measles has already passed.
At California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA), university officials said that they were informed of a possible measles exposure incident in the university’s Library North on April 11 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Employees and student workers potentially exposed during the incident have been sent home under quarantine orders and have been asked to not return to work until given clearance by the Department of Public Health.
According to Cal State LA, 127 staff workers and 71 student workers have been asked to remain home as of Friday. Any others who may have been in the library during the specified time and date were told to determine their immunization status or schedule a blood test.
Los Angeles County residents urged to check immunization
The university orders came as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Monday, April 22 declared a measles outbreak, and urged residents to get measles immunizations in light of five recent cases in the county that included those in the two universities.
“Public Health urges residents who have not been fully immunized against measles with two does of the measles immunization, to contact their healthcare provider to get fully immunized in order to better protect their individual health and to prevent the spread of measles to others,” the department said in a statement.
The first measles incident in Los Angeles this year was reported at Los Angeles International Airport when one person confirmed to have had measles arrived at Gate 218 on April 1 sometime from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Other incidents identified by the department happened on April 11 at an El Pollo Loco Restaurant in La Cañada Flintridge at around 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on April 13 at El Sauz Tacos in Glendale from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The department said that there were no known risks related to measles at any of the venues as of Monday, but said it would continue investigations. It added that the majority of the cases 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,” said Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer.
According to California state health officials, 38 people have been reported infected with measles as of Monday — an increase from the previous week’s total of 15.
“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% effective at preventing measles,” he added. (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)