Health officials are trying to get the word out to residents in the northern California area that they be in close proximity to a case of measles. The University of California at Berkley’s health services has said that one of their students had contracted measles, they believe during a trip overseas, and then spent time on campus and riding the Bay Area Rapid Transportation system BART. This incident of exposure risks putting many, who could have been exposed to the disease in the hospital.
The student apparently lives in Contra Costa County and commutes to school on the BART trains. The student would have been on the trains with measles on the morning and late evening routes on February 4th to the 7th. He is said to have ridden between El Cerrito’s Del Norte train station through to the Downtown Berkley stop. He is also suspected to be in his 20s according to officials.
This person could have infected a wide array of people and not only those with who he came into contact with or shared bodily fluid. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that measles can be spread through ejaculatory actions like breathing, sneezing and coughing. It is also a very contagious disease; their website also says that “any child who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease.
Erika Jenssen, who acts as the director of the communicable disease program with the Contra Costa Health Services, said she wants to stress to nearby inhabitants that this is a serious viral disease with real side effects that spreads quickly.
Good news for Bay Area riders is that most Americans can not get infected with measles because they are vaccinated against the disease for life. Reports indicate that this Berkley student was not vaccinated for measles.
Jenssen also said that her company is “definitely concerned about people who are not immune, especially because approximately 400,000 people ride BART every weekday.
Common indicators of measles include the common cold, red eyes, a high fever and normally a telltale rash will begin showing. Measles is also particularly dangerous for children. Normally 10% of children who get the disease will wind up with an ear infection and approximately 5% with contract pneumonia. For every 1,000 kids who get measles one or two will die says the CDC.
The health officer serving the City of Berkley said that measles often spreads via air particles specifically in situations where people are together in a closed environment. The officer also added that the vaccine is highly effective in preventing contraction of the illness.
So far there have been no follow cases in this incident that would suggest an outbreak of measles. There has also not been any update on the infected student’s status although his situation is not believed to be critical. Parents are urged to get their children vaccinated against measles so that they will be safe from further cases like this one. Cal Berkley students and riders of BART are being asked to monitor their health over the coming days and immediately report any signs of measles especially if they believe they could have come into contact with this student carrying measles.
By Nick Manai