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Public Health Issues Measles Warning for Spring Break Travel Season

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With measles outbreaks occurring nationally and internationally and the increase in travel during the spring break season, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) reminds everyone who has not been immunized against measles to get the measles- mumps-rubella (MMR) immunization. Spring travel and attending large-scale events, especially in places with ongoing outbreaks, can increase your chances of exposure to measles.

“With ninety-percent effectiveness, the measles immunization is the best way to keep from getting and spreading measles,” said Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer. “Because non-immune adults, particularly those born in 1957 or later, have also been affected by recent outbreaks, we recommend that everyone contact their doctor to ensure they have received two doses of the measles immunization.”

Travelers taking domestic trips should follow the general Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination recommendations. Those traveling internationally should consider the expedited schedule, particularly for children and anyone who does not have evidence of immunity.

According to the CDC, 555 cases of measles have been confirmed in the United States so far this year. This is the second-highest level in 25 years, with the number of measles cases expected to rise. As of last week, the CDC reported the disease has spread to five more states, bringing the total number of states affected up to 20. Nearly two-thirds of all the cases have been in New York. Outbreaks are also occurring internationally. Although Los Angeles County has no cases for 2019, Public Health has responded to three nonresident cases that traveled through Los Angeles County this year (excluding Long Beach and Pasadena as cases identified in those cities are reported by their local health departments).

Protect Yourself and Others from Illness

Measles is considered among the most contagious viruses in the world. About 90% of non-immune individuals become infected if exposed.

Common symptoms of this highly contagious illness include fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis (red eyes) and a rash which usually appears 10 to 21 days after the exposure. Individuals should contact their healthcare provider by phone before going in if they develop measles symptoms. The CDC recommends that all children receive two doses of MMR vaccine, the first between the ages of 12 to 15 months, and the second between the ages of 4 and 6 years. People who may have been exposed to measles and who have not been immunized, may receive measles immunization and be protected from developing the disease.

Measles immunizations are available at your healthcare provider, local pharmacy or health clinic. Public Health clinics offer no or low-cost immunizations for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured. To find a nearby Public Health clinic, call 2-1-1 or visit http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/chs/phcenters.htm.

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