Nine or More Infected with Measles at Disneyland

Disneyland goers left with a surprise souvenir over the holiday. Approximately nine people that visited Disneyland of Disney California Adventure between December 15 and December 20 last year have been confirmed to have measles. Three additional cases are pending, bringing the potential total number to twelve.

Measles is a respiratory disease carried by a virus and spread through the air. Historically, it is a very serious and contagious disease due to its nature. To put it into perspective, for every person that has measles, 12 to 18 are infected. For Ebola, the transmission ratio is 1.5 to 2.5.

Thankfully, measles can be prevented through vaccination. While measles is still a leading cause of death among children globally, the introduction of its vaccine has brought cases down 75%. It was believed to have been eradicated in the U.S. by 2000, but showed an unexpected surge of 610 cases last year. Globally, there are approximately 145 700 measles deaths each year, but the vaccine is estimated to have prevent 15.6 million deaths since 2000.

Symptoms of measles include high fever, runny nose, a cough, and red and watery eyes. Most uniquely, small white spots can develop on the cheeks and a rash that begins the face and upper neck. Measles fatalities are usually due to complications.

California health officials theorize that Disney’s international attraction likely played a role in the small outbreak, especially if visitors are from places where the disease is prevalent and endemic. Disney and its own medical department are reportedly working with the health department provide information and assistance to health officials investigating the outbreak.

The best way to prevent measles is through vaccination. Thankfully, the measles vaccine is regarded as generally safe, highly effective, and celebrated as cost-efficient. Unfortunately, two of the nine infected at Disneyland were small children too young to receive the vaccine–highlighting the importance of older children and adults to be vaccinated. Of those infected at Disneyland, only one person had received the vaccine previously–the six others were unvaccinated. The LA Times points out that a rise in measles and whooping cough has occurred with a decrease in California kindergarten vaccination rates, either because parents decided against it or that children had been too young and were never taken back for the vaccine. The trend may be linked to concerns that vaccines are unsafe and/or may trigger autism. Paired with widespread international travel and a recent outbreak in the Philippines, the situation in California is a troublesome equation for public health (many of the cases reported in California were linked to the Philippines).

If you are suffering from symptoms of measles, seek medical attention immediately. If you or your child have not been vaccinated, learn more about whether being vaccinated is right for you. Visit webmd.com and most importantly, talk to your doctor. 

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