LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some students and employees possibly exposed to measles at two Los Angeles universities were still quarantined on campus or told to stay home Friday, but the numbers were dwindling as people were able to show they were vaccinated for the highly contagious disease.
Measles in the United States has climbed to its highest level in 25 years, closing in on 700 cases this year. (Source: MGN)
The measures were ordered this week at the University of California, Los Angeles, and California State University, Los Angeles, after health officials determined that two infected people visited buildings on the sprawling campuses this month.
Measles, which can become very serious and even cause death, is at a 25-year high in the United States, largely attributed to misinformation that is turning parents against vaccines. President Donald Trump on Friday urged Americans to get immunizations to stop measles from spreading.
Los Angeles County has five residents with confirmed cases so far this year, all linked to people who traveled overseas.
"One person with a confirmed measles case can expose thousands of people to measles," Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County's public health department director, said Thursday.
UCLA spokesman Tod Tamberg said there was one student remaining in quarantine on campus, where the school arranged for care for those who live in residence halls.
And fewer than 50 students and faculty members were still isolated at their houses off campus while officials determine if they have been vaccinated or have immunity, Tamberg said.
The 45,000-student university was notified Monday that a student with a confirmed case of measles had been in two campus buildings on three days early this month.
Initially, more than 500 students, staff and faculty were told they may have been exposed, but most were cleared. Public health officials quarantined 127 people Wednesday, but the number has fallen rapidly since then.
Across the city, Cal State LA this week sent home under quarantine orders 127 staffers and 71 student employees of a library that an infected person visited on April 11. Those numbers were not expected to be updated until later Friday, spokesman Robert Lopez said. More people commute than live on campus.
Measles in the United States has climbed to its highest level in a quarter century, closing in on 700 cases this year. Roughly three-quarters of this year's illnesses have been in New York state.
In response to outbreaks, lawmakers in states like California, Washington state and Oregon are moving to crack down on exemptions to vaccinating children, which have drawn emotional protests.
California had recorded 38 measles cases as of Thursday; there were 11 around the same time last year, said Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health.
The state typically sees fewer than two dozen cases a year, she said. More than 76% of patients were not vaccinated or did not receive the recommended two doses of vaccine, Smith said. Fourteen of those infected had traveled overseas to countries including Philippines, Thailand, India and Ukraine.
Measles in most people causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. However, a small fraction of those infected can have complications such as pneumonia and a dangerous swelling of the brain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for everyone over a year old, except for people who had the disease as children. Those who have had measles are immune.
The vaccine, which became available in the 1960s, is considered safe and effective, and because of it, measles had been declared all but eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. But it has made comebacks since then.
Associated Press Writer John Antczak contributed to this report.
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