Editor’s Note: According to the latest figures by the CDC (April 19), 626 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 22 states this year.
Update #2, April 23, 2019:
In a press release yesterday, Public Health Officials confirmed five cases of measles in Los Angeles County. These mark the first time this preventable disease has been transmitted in the county this year.
Four of the infected individuals are connected to each other through international travel. A fifth individual contracted measles separately, also while traveling outside the country. Each of the affected individuals had not had the MMR vaccine, and spent time out and about before symptoms appeared.
The following locations have been identified so far as places where others may have been exposed:
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Tom Bradley International Terminal, arrived at Gate 218 on April 1 from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Franz Hall on April 2, 4, and 9 and Boelter Hall on April 2 and 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 6 :00 p.m.
- California State University, Los Angeles, Main Library, on April 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- El Pollo Loco Restaurant, 1939 Verdugo Blvd, La Cañada Flintridge, on April 11 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- El Sauz Tacos, 4432 San Fernando Rd, Glendale, on April 13 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
At this time there is no known current risk at any of these locations, but people who were there at these times might have been exposed.
Say officials, “Public Health urges residents who have not been fully immunized against measles with two doses 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.”
Approximately 90% of individuals who have not received the vaccine will become ill within 7-21 days of exposure. This delay prior to symptoms presenting themselves means a person could be infected without yet knowing it. You can transmit the virus to someone else up to four days prior to the characteristic rash appearing, meaning you might unwittingly spread the virus while performing your normal daily activities. For children, where classroom settings allow the virus to spread even faster, exposure is especially dangerous: 1 in 1000 die from measles, a death burden exceeding that of influenza more than 100 times over.
If you or your family remain unvaccinated and would like more information please click here or contact a local medical provider.
Update, April 18, 2019:
- An El Al flight attendant is in a coma after coming down with the measles on a flight between New York City and Tel Aviv. Israel’s Ministry of Health says it’s unclear where or when the 43-year-old woman contracted the virus, but that she is now battling encephalitis (a severe complication of measles in which the brain swells) and that she is on a respirator because she is unable to breathe on her own.
- Also in New York, a group of anti-vaxx parents are suing the city after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s declared the measles vaccine mandatory for all children on the basis of the city’s ongoing public health emergency. The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order against the mandate, which would see these parents fined $1000 should they refuse to vaccinate their children.
- If you’d like to learn more about why measles is back in the United States, Vox Media has a great video detailing the timeline of the disease for. “Almost all US states allow parents to opt their children out of vaccinations,” reads the description.
Original Article Posted April 12, 2019:
The 90’s have returned with a vengeance. And yet, despite their email invite back into the public consciousness coming with a very strict “NO PLUS-ONES” policy — they seem to have brought a friend. Her name is Measles and we don’t like her very much. Because unlike bell bottoms, cargo pants, and a few other things we thought we’d mercifully ixnayed back in the year 2000 — never mind what the fashionistas say — measles can kill.
When measles was declared eliminated from the United States 19 years ago, and from the whole of the Americas three years ago, it was thanks to widespread vaccination. Now, we’re in the midst of the second worst outbreak of the disease in decades. According to the latest numbers by the Centers for Disease Control, so far there have been 465 individual cases of the highly contagious virus confirmed across 19 states.”
Yes, California is counted among them: 17 cases so far. This isn’t a health safety issue in the abstract. It’s on our doorstep, knocking away. Like the recalls of lettuce or beef we’ve talked about lately, this is a very real danger.
This Wednesday officials of Long Beach Airport announced that passengers had been exposed to measles twice in the past two weeks. A traveler contagious with the virus passed through the airport on March 30 and April 7 between between 6 and 8 AM. Health officials warn that anyone at LGB at the same time as the infected passenger, are at risk.
The virus, which spreads through coughing and sneezing, and often presents with a characteristic red rash, can survive on surfaces and in the air for two hours after an infectious person has left the room. Meaning, anyone anyone who flew on the same aircraft or was at the airport in the two hours following might also been exposed. If symptoms don’t appear by April 28, then travelers can safely consider themselves no longer at risk of developing measles from exposure at LGB.
Elsewhere, so serious is the risk to public safety that states of emergency have been declared. New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has been among those hit hardest, with 285 people falling ill since the start of the outbreak back in September. Community leaders have supported vaccination efforts, and have urged people to vaccinate their children (and themselves), but they’re up against a small yet vocal contingent of anti-vaxxers.
Vaccination hesitancy is nothing new. For as long as vaccines have existed, people have been concerned about their efficacy, and whether they may do more harm than good. That’s the basis of one of the biggest misconceptions about vaccines: that they cause autism. Parents, breathe a sigh of relief: this misconception is not born out of science. Numerous studies have found no causal link between vaccines and autism, but once misinformation makes its way onto the internet, best of luck trying to stop it. As Winston Churchill once said: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
For many parents, the decision to not vaccinate their children is a personal one. The problem is, this choice affects everyone. Vaccines, contrary to popular belief, are not solely for the good of the recipient; they’re help keep the entire community safe from exposure.
It’s called herd immunity. When a large enough percentage of the population is immune to a disease, this population acts as a buffer — insulating those who do not have immunity from any infected individuals. Why this is so necessary is because there are people who cannot be vaccinated either due to age or an underlying medical condition.
The earliest a child can start receiving an MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine schedule is 12 months of age, leaving our youngest citizens susceptible to the disease until they do. When an outbreak hits, the effects are often felt hardest at schools and daycares, but others at risk when herd immunity fails are the elderly or anyone with a weakened immune system.
This is what happened in New York City, and what has started happening around the rest of the country as well. Herd immunity is failing, nowhere more so than in communities where vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaxxer sentiments have taken root.
The World Health Organization has named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health this year, placing it among the ranks of other titans of infirmity: climate change, HIV, and antimicrobial existence, to name a few.
Vaccinations are a public responsibility, especially with conditions as contagious and deadly as the measles. If you’re in your 50’s or below, you’re too young to remember the time when a case of the measles, polio, or smallpox more often than not carried a death sentence. From Fiji to the Inuit populations of Greenland, entire communities have been ravaged by a virus that simply does not care.
If you are among those who are not vaccinated for the measles or other conditions, and would like to learn how you can be, the U.S. government has a page for that. For more information on the signs and symptoms of measles, we recommend paying a visit to the CDC’S measles web portal.
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Measles: Signs and Symptoms.” Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
“Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know.” Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
“Where to Go: Vaccines.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
“Officials warn of measles exposure at Long Beach Airport as California outbreak grows.” Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
“New Measles Cases Reach Weekly High for 2019.” The New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
“Ten threats to global health in 2019.” World Health Organization. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
“Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy.” World Health Organization. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
“New York City orders vaccinations for some amid measles outbreak.” Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 April 2019.