Published: Sat, April 27, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Measles outbreak forces quarantine at two California universities

Measles outbreak forces quarantine at two California universities

In the last few days, hundreds of students and staff at two universities in Los Angeles were quarantined.

A nationwide measles outbreak has led health officials to quarantine dozens of people at two Los Angeles universities, officials said on Thursday.

The number of measles cases in the USA has climbed to almost 700 this year, including five in Los Angeles County and 38 altogether in California.

The people ordered quarantined at two California campuses were exposed to measles and could not provide evidence they had been immunized against the disease, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement.

UCLA says some people could remain in quarantines for up to 48 hours before they prove immunity.

The US has recorded 695 cases of measles in 2019 - the most in any year since the disease was declared eliminated at the turn of the century.

The anti-vax phenomenon has adherents across the Western world but is particularly high profile in the U.S., where it has been fuelled by medically baseless claims spread on social media. Spread by coughing or sneezing, the virus can linger in the air long after an infected person leaves a room.


UCLA said 127 students and faculty are being held while they await medical records to determine whether they're immune to the illness. A person who contracted the disease visited the university library on April 11.

Cal State-LA is primarily a commuter school, while many UCLA students live on campus. The quarantine initially affected about 200 employees, including some student-employees, the university said in a statement.

Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health, says the state recorded 38 measles cases as of Thursday, versus 11 around the same time a year ago. Colleges and universities are an area of concern for public health officials, the Los Angeles Times reported, because the current generation of college students were infants when Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced former British physician, began spreading the false idea that vaccines were linked to autism. The state recorded 38 measles cases as of Thursday, versus 11 around the same time past year, said Dr. Karen Smith, director of the California Department of Public Health. There were 11 cases total this time a year ago.

"Considering the time that has elapsed since the last possible exposure to the individual with measles on April 9, the highest risk period for developing measles has already passed - and the period during which symptoms may appear is nearing the end", UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.

The CDC says people in 22 states have the virus, six states have multiple cases; David Lee Miller reports. "Many countries are now experiencing widespread measles activity".

"We will likely see additional measles cases in Los Angeles County, so it is important if you or someone you know has the symptoms of measles or has been exposed to measles to contact your health-care provider by phone right away before seeking treatment", Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis said.

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