Orange County latest area hit by nationwide measles outbreak

Measles cases have spread to 22 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A woman in her 20s and an infant under the age of one in Orange County have been confirmed to have measles. Graphic by Emma Reith

An infant under the age of one is the latest measles cases reported in Orange County, bringing the total up to three as of May 5, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) confirmed the first case to The Panther April 30. A female in her 20s was considered infectious between April 23 and May 1, according to a statement from the HCA, and may have been infected due to a recent trip to Vietnam. The country experienced 1,177 cases of measles in 2018, according to UNICEF.

The new cases come days after more than 1,000 college students and staff members in Los Angeles were told to stay home after some students were diagnosed with the measles at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State Los Angeles).

The female individual in Orange County is currently under “voluntary isolation” at home in Placentia, about six miles from Chapman, according to HCA. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world and can spread through coughing or sneezing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While infected, the female visited several public places including St. Jude Emergency Department and a midnight showing of “Avengers: Endgame” at a Fullerton AMC movie theatre April 27, according to the statement.

Orange County residents are encouraged to review their measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination history and to watch for any measles symptoms, which can include a fever and rash.

“People who have not had measles or the measles vaccine are at higher risk after an exposure, so they should talk with a healthcare provider about receiving MMR vaccination,” said the HCA statement.

The MMR vaccination is administered to children in two stages: the first between 12 and 15 months, and the second occurring between the age of four and six, according to the CDC.

If symptoms occur within seven to 21 days after exposure, residents should “stay at home and call a health care provider immediately,” the statement said.

In an April 30 email, Chapman’s Office of the Vice President warned students about the first reported Orange County case.

“Although there have been no reported cases here at Chapman University, we want to provide resources and support for our community to prevent an occurrence here,” the email said. If students exhibit symptoms, they should contact Chapman’s Student Health Services.

There have been 704 confirmed cases of measles in the United States in 2019, spanning 22 U.S. states, according to the CDC. The outbreak is the largest number of reported cases since 1994, as measles was thought to have been eradicated in 2000.

The anti-vaccination movement, led by individuals who oppose vaccines for religious, philosophical and medical reasons, gained momentum after actress Jenny McCarthy announced that her son had autism due to vaccines.

A study by British doctor Andrew Wakefield in 1998, which had a sample size of 12, incorrectly linked the MMR vaccination to the development of autism. The study was retracted by The Lancet, the medical journal that published it.

“Disease rates are low in the United States today,” said a post on the CDC’s website. “But if we let ourselves become vulnerable by not vaccinating, a case that could touch off an outbreak of some disease that is currently under control is just a plane ride away.”