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Published On: Sun, Feb 23rd, 2014

California reports surge in measles, some cases linked to travel to Philippines, India

The viral disease, measles, once declared eliminated in the US (2000), has been seen in increasing numbers over the past several years.

In California, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has received reports of 15 confirmed measles cases in California residents so far this year. This compares to two cases during the same period in 2013, according to a CDPH teleconference Friday.

Public domain image/National Atlas of the United States

Public domain image/National Atlas of the United States

High immunization rates in California have kept preventable childhood diseases, such as measles, at record lows during the past 20 years. Since 2000, the number of cases per year in California has ranged from 4-40 cases. In that time, almost all measles cases in the United States have been linked to travel to areas of the world where measles still circulates. Among the California cases with onset in 2014, three had traveled to the Philippines, where a large outbreak is occurring, and two had traveled to India, where measles is endemic.

“Immunization is the best defense against measles, with 99 percent of persons developing immunity after two doses,” says Dr. Ron Chapman, Dr. Ron Chapman, state health officer and director of CDPH. “With an outbreak in the Philippines and measles transmission ongoing in many parts of the world outside of North and South America, we can expect to see more imported cases of this vaccine-preventable disease.” Imported cases can spread to the community, especially among unvaccinated persons, including infants too young to be vaccinated.

Measles or rubeola, is an acute highly communicable viral disease that is characterized by Koplik spots in the cheek or tongue very early in the disease. A couple of days later a red blotchy rash appears first on the face, and then spreads, lasting 4-7 days. Other symptoms include fever, cough and red watery eyes. The patient may be contagious from four days prior to the rash appearance to four days after rash appearance.

The disease is more severe in infants and adults. Complications from measles which is reported in up to 20% of people infected include; seizures, pneumonia, deafness and encephalitis.

The single best way to prevent measles is through vaccination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the decade before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3–4 million people in the United States were infected each year, of whom 400–500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis.

Widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases in the United States compared with the pre-vaccine era, and in 2012, only 55 cases of measles were reported in the United States.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page and the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show page.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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