Orange County public health officials today recommended measles vaccinations for anyone not already inoculated, in light of 21 confirmed cases of measles so far this year, compared to one or two cases in an average year.
The 21 confirmed cases of measles outpaces any other county statewide, and the number is likely to go higher, officials with the Health Care Agency said.
Of the cases diagnosed, five have been in children, none of whom had been immunized, according to the agency. Five others are healthcare workers who got the viral infection from patients.
Anyone who believes they were exposed to measles were being told to stay home for three weeks to prevent spreading it.
Anyone exposed to measles can be contagious for four days -- before and after its characteristic skin rash shows. Anyone who believes they are infected is urged to get call a doctor before showing up in a waiting room, where the measles could spread to others.
Children should get a measles shot when they are about 1-year-old. A second vaccination is typically given when they are 4-6 years old and in school.
The disease can be spread through the air.
Orange County public health officials typically only document one or two cases per year, Nicole Stanfield of the Health Care Agency said.
Symptoms usually start 10-12 days after exposure, but sometimes up to three weeks later. Measles can push fevers as high as 105 degrees, sometimes coupled with a cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis or pink eye. Two to four days later, a rash develops, usually around the ears and hairline, that can spread to the face and arms and legs.
Last month, Dr. Matt Zahn of the Health Care Agency said many cases identified in California after the patient traveled outside the United States.
"This has been an issue for years," he said.
Measles is largely a thing of the past in the United States, so most people contract it in another country, Zahn said. In Orange County, those recently afflicted have traveled to and from the Philippines, Zahn said.
Unfounded skepticism about vaccinating children is also an issue, Zahn said.
"Parents are inundated with information questioning the value of vaccines," Zahn said, adding those claims are baseless.
The vaccine for measles works about 99 percent of the time, Zahn said.
--City News Service