DISNEYLAND visitors may have been exposed to measles, officials warn

California officials warn some 44,000 DISNEYLAND visitors may have been exposed to the measles virus at the theme park last week

  • Los Angeles health officials warned on Tuesday that a person diagnosed with measles visited Disneyland on October 16 
  • The person also went to a Starbucks on Sepulveda Boulevard 
  • Officials warn other visitors who have visited either location to watch for symptoms like fever, cough and a rash for 21 days 
  • Over 1,200 cases of measles have been reported this year in the US – a surge that threatened the nation’s measles elimination status 
  • In 2014, an infected person visited Disneyland, triggering a 147-person outbreak that led California to drop philosophical vaccine exemptions

People who were at Disneyland or a nearby Starbucks in Los Angeles on October 16 may have been exposed to measles, city health officials warned on Tuesday. 

The theme park draws an average of 44,000 people every day from all over the country and the world – and any of the visitors that day could have come into contact with the infected Los Angeles resident.

Officials warn visitors to both location to watch for symptoms such as cough, fever, sore throat and eventually the tell-tale rash, which will likely appear within 21 days of exposure.  

Measles cases have surged to over 1,200 in the US in 2019, threatening the nation’s measles elimination status and far outpacing a 2014 outbreak among 288 people that had Disneyland at its epicenter.

Los Angeles heath officials warned on Tuesday that a resident with measles visited Disneyland on October 16, potentially exposing tens of thousands of daily park-goers to the virus 

A single visitor to the park that year triggered a multi-state outbreak. 

That Disneyland case led to 147 additional illnesses and a major legislative change in the state. 

California still allowed vaccine exemptions for personal beliefs that year, and as a result, only a little over 90 percent of Kindergartners were fully up to date on immunizations against infections, including measles. 

That percentage falls below the estimated 95 percent needed to ensure herd immunity. 

So between the state’s relatively low vaccination rates and the presence of travelers, including those from other countries where measles may be more prevalent, measles had an opportunity to spread like wildfire. 

In the aftermath of the outbreak, California ditched its personal belief exemptions, and vaccination rates have since improved. 

But in many states, non-medical exemptions from vaccines remain legal, and vaccination rates have slipped below the recommended 90-95 percent. 

Low vaccination rates – especially among tight-knit and religious communities – have been widely blamed for 2019’s US measles outbreak, which has reached a 25-year high of 1,249 cases. 

Officials were deeply concerned that the World Health Organization would revoke the measles ‘elimination’ status bestowed upon the US in 2000. 

As of October, the US narrowly kept that status, though new cases have still been reported this month. 

That status was preserved in part by the September declaration that the nation’s largest state outbreak, in New York, was over.

Amid the outbreak, the state passed emergency measures that banned religious exemptions from vaccination and blocked unvaccinated children (without documented medical exemptions) from attending school this fall. 

The ban is the subject of several lawsuits in the state. 

Meanwhile, California has passed even stricter laws to attempt to prevent a handful of anti-vaccination doctors from handing out bogus ‘medical’ exemptions. 

In light of the potential Disneyland exposure, officials in Los Angeles are re-doubling their insistence that all Californians who are medically able get vaccinated. 

‘For those who are not protected, measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that initially causes fever, cough, red, watery eyes, and, finally, a rash’ said Dr Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County Health Officer, in a Tuesday statement. 

‘Measles is spread by air and by direct contact even before you know have it. The MMR immunization is a very effective measure to protect yourself and to prevent the unintentional spread of this potentially serious infection to others.’  

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