As Disneyland Measles Outbreak Grows, Should Angelenos Be Worried?

As Disneyland Measles Outbreak Grows, Should Angelenos Be Worried?

The California Department of Public Health now says that the state has seen 59 cases of the measles since late December, with 42 linked to the well-publicized outbreak linked to Disneyland.

Orange and San Diego Counties (20 and 14 cases, respectively) have been hit with the worst of it so far. But L.A. is not immune. Oh, no.

Los Angeles has seen nine cases since Jan. 1, and eight of them are connected to the Disneyland outbreak, a representative of the L.A. County Department of Public Health told us.

Dr. Gregory L. Taylor, medical director of Keck Medicine of USC in downtown, says Angelenos "should be concerned."

But he also said nobody should panic.

"This is something to have heightened awareness about," he told us. "We need to make sure parents are vigilant about vaccinating their children. The reason we have these vaccines is because people were once dying."

He wasn't directly addressing idiots like Jenny McCarthy, but we are.

So here's Taylor's advice:

-If you or your children have not been vaccinated against the measles, do so ASAP.

-Look out for signs of the measles in those around you. Symptoms include fever of about 105 and a red-blotch rash that starts at the hairline and face and makes its way down one's body.

-Those suspected of having contracted the measles should see a medical professional immediately.

As Disneyland Measles Outbreak Grows, Should Angelenos Be Worried?

Here's what the L.A. County Department of Public Health had to say:

The best way to protect against measles is to get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Two doses of MMR vaccine is highly effective in preventing measles. If you are unsure of your vaccination status or may have had contact with someone with the measles, check with your doctor to have a test to check for measles immunity or to receive vaccination.

The incubation period for developing measles is up to 21 days after being exposed to someone else who has the disease. While every effort is being made to identify and immunize all persons who may have been exposed to others with measles, some persons may still develop symptoms and present for care.

Even those of us who have wisely been vaccinated could possibly contract the virus. Taylor says immunization is 93 to 97 percent effective and that those with compromised immune systems could be more susceptible to developing the disease.

Children under 5, adults older than 20, particularly the elderly, and those with immune system diseases and disorders, including HIV, are the most vulnerable and could ultimately die, experts say.

In fact, two of every 1,000 children who end up with the measles will die, Taylor said.

It's very contagious. Nine out of 10 people who have had contact with someone who has the measles will get the virus, Taylor said.

"It's airborne and it's transmitted through coughing, sneezing, shaking hands or close contact," the doctor said. "It can remain infectious on surfaces and in the air for up to two hours after you leave a room."

He says that even washing your hands after having contact with someone who has the measles might not prevent transmission. However, Taylor said, washing your hands regularly and using hand sanitizer often is the least you can do to prevent the measles, the flu and the common cold from spreading.

"These viruses have been around since the beginning of time," he said, "and they're not going anywhere."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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