Measles cases increase in California

Flu cases seem to be winding down around the state but doctors say they are now turning their attention to the spread of measles.
February 21, 2014 5:41:54 PM PST
Flu cases seem to be winding down around the state but doctors say they are now turning their attention to the spread of measles.

There has been a significant jump in the number of measles cases. The California Department of Public Health has confirmed fifteen cases in the state so far this year. There were only two cases at this time last year.

Measles symptoms begin with a fever, followed by cough, runny nose and water eyes. Then rashes start to begin in the face and the body. People with measles are contagious for about eight days, four days before the rash starts and four days after. Measles are spread through the air after coughing or sneezing.

Gil Chavez of the California Department of Public Health says that people have traveled to other countries and brought the disease back with them.

"Of the 15 measles cases, three traveled to the Philippines where a large outbreak is occurring, two traveled to India where measles is endemic," Chavez said. "Among the remaining cases, three are linked with confirmed measles cases, and five are under investigation."

So far the confirmed cases are in Northern and Southern California counties and none have been fatal. Chavez is urging people to get vaccinated for measles, especially if they are traveling outside of North and South America.

"Vaccination will ensure that you stay healthy during your vacation, as well as those traveling with you and welcoming you back home," he said.

The ages of the measles patients range from five months to 44 years old. Doctors say they know at least seven of those patients have not gotten the vaccine. They are looking at the immunization status of the rest.

Children usually get the vaccine before they start Kindergarten. They usually get the first dose by age three and get a second by age four. But doctors say if you're not sure, it doesn't hurt to get the vaccine again.

The California Department of Public Health estimates more than 97-percent of Californians have gotten the vaccine. A little more than 2-percent have opted out of getting the vaccines because it goes against their religious or personal beliefs.

David Luchini, of the Fresno County Department of Public Health, says while he doesn't know of any reported cases in the Central Valley, they are monitoring local doctor's offices.

"What we'll be doing is sending reminders to our health care providers in Fresno County, so they know what to look for," he said.

The last time Fresno County had a measles case was in 1994.

As far as Flu cases, the California Department of Public Health say the number of confirmed deaths of people under 65, has increased by 35 to a total of 278. Six of the deaths were children. There are also an additional 29 cases that state health officials are still looking at.

"Thankfully it's really slowed down," Luchini said, "We have not seen reports of significant flu activity going to school or with our providers or emergency reporters."

But Luchini and other doctors still continue to advise people to get flu shots who have not gotten it yet.

"It could always turn around and we can start seeing cases again," he said.

From the State Department Press Release:

The 278 confirmed influenza-associated deaths this season have been reported by the following jurisdictions:

Alameda (6), Butte (1), Calaveras (2), Contra Costa (6), El Dorado (2), Fresno (21), Glenn (1), Humboldt (1), Imperial (1), Kern (10), Kings (4), Lake (1), Lassen (1), Long Beach (7), Los Angeles (36), Madera (2), Marin (2), Mendocino (4), Merced (5), Monterey (5), Nevada (1), Orange (10), Riverside (10), Sacramento (25), San Bernardino (19), San Diego (23), San Francisco (3), San Joaquin (6), San Luis Obispo (1), San Mateo (6), Santa Barbara (3), Santa Clara (14), Santa Cruz (3), Shasta (3), Siskiyou (2), Solano (3), Sonoma (7), Stanislaus (13), Sutter (1), Tulare (3), Tuolumne (1) and Ventura (3).


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