ANAHEIM (CBSLA.com) — At least nine people have contracted measles after visiting Disneyland parks in Orange County over the holidays, the state Department of Public Health said Wednesday.
The local infected patients, who were from Alameda, Orange, Pasadena, Riverside and San Diego, range in age from 8 months to 21 years old. Just one of the infected individuals had been fully vaccinated.
The California Health Department has sent out an alert, warning doctors to be on the lookout for signs of measles.
Disneyland released a statement on Wednesday, addressing the issue.
“We are working with the health department to provide any information and assistance we can,” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chief Medical Officer Pamela Hymel said.
“Two Utah resident cases have also been confirmed and three additional California residents are also suspected to have measles and are under investigation,” Ron Chapman of the CDPH said.
The confirmed and suspected patients reported visiting either Disneyland and/or California Adventure theme parks between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20 of last year, according to Chapman.
“It is likely that a person infectious with measles was at one of the theme parks on these dates,” he said.
The sickness usually begins with a fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes before a red rash appears. The rash symptomatically appears on the face first and then spreads to the rest of the body.
Measles is a highly infectious and airborne disease, according to officials.
“The best way to prevent measles and its spread is to get vaccinated,” Chapman added.
More information about measles can be found on the CDPH website.
The Center for Disease Control says that the MMR vaccine is the best protection available against measles, stating that the first dose is usually given between 12 and 15 months, and the second between 4 and 6 years old.
“Measles is an airborne virus,” Dr. Kathy Lalezarzadeh said. “So, usually it gets spread through coughing and sneezing. And the droplets go into the air, and whoever is in that area will be able to catch (measles).”
Lalezarzadeh says she recommends children who have not been vaccinated should do so as early as possible.
“I definitely do recommend that, if your child hasn’t had the measles vaccine, that they get it, because they can get very sick from it if they catch measles,” Lalezarzadeh said.