As flu deaths are down, measles cases increase not only in California, but reportedly across the country. The California Department of Public Health alerted the population that 14 cases of this infection have been found in the state since the beginning of 2014, out of which seven people were intentionally unvaccinated. The situation got worse as an unnamed and unvaccinated University of California, Berkley student contacted the disease while travelling in the Philippines and rode the Bay Area Rapid Transit constantly from February 4 through February 7. However, measles cases have not been reported only in California, but also in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, where an unnamed person contracted the virus from New York and could have exposed people in Pittsburgh.
Just when the flu deaths went down, another threat could hit the country; measles cases are rapidly increasing and the California Department of Public Health reported cases in the following counties: Los Angeles County, Orange and Riverside Counties, Bay Area’s Alameda, Contra Costa and San Mateo.
Erika Janssen, a communicable disease officer for Contra Costa County alerts people to recognize the symptoms of cough, fever, watery eyes, runny nose, and possibly a rash. This contagious viral disease is transmitted through the air and infected people are usually contagious four days before the rash starts and four days after. The rash normally appears on the face, along the hairline and also behind the ears before spreading throughout the body.
Gil Chavez, deputy director and epidemiologist for the California Department of Public Health stated that people susceptible to measles are the unvaccinated residents born after 1957 and, just like in the case of flu, elderly people, pregnant women, unvaccinated children and those with lung or heart problems are also exposed to the virus. Health officials recommend parents to vaccinate their children twice: once at 12 to 15 months of age and the second time before going to kindergarten.
Although the flu deaths are down, measles cases increase and apart from the fact that the virus lingers in the air for maximum two hours, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that about one in 20 children who get this infection also get pneumonia and one or two in 1,000 die.
Personal Belief Exemption Law
California’s personal belief exemption law allows children to skip their childhood immunization because their parents believe the measles vaccine is dangerous, and although Doctor Kathleen Harriman of the public health department’s immunization branch stated that “fewer than three percent of California schoolchildren use the exemption,” this could be the reason why outbreaks are back after being eliminated in the United States 14 years ago.
Although infections are usually brought from other countries, CDC mentioned that the majority of the cases occurred in unvaccinated people.
“These illnesses continue to make a comeback because we have people who refuse to be vaccinated,” Chavez said.
Although the main problem with the measles cases that keep boosting are mainly in California, people from Pittsburgh have also been alerted that they might have been exposed to the virus, especially those who took 64 Port Authority bus on Valentine’s Day.
Just as California’s flu deaths are down, measles cases have increased and a possibility of outbreak should not be excluded, taking into consideration that the latest epidemic occurred in early 2013 in Brooklyn, New York after a teen who travelled to the United Kingdom and then returned home infected 58 people, all members of an Orthodox Jewish community.
By Gabriela Motroc