January 8, 2015 / 12:25 AM / 4 years ago

California health officials link measles outbreak to Disneyland

LOS ANGELES, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Nine cases of measles have been confirmed in people who visited Disneyland or its adjacent California Adventure park in late December, state health officials said on Wednesday, urging anyone who may have been exposed to contact a doctor.

All nine of the confirmed cases are in people who visited at least one of the two amusement parks in Anaheim between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20, said Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health.

Chapman said three more suspected cases in people who were at one of the parks during that time frame were under investigation.

“Based on information from current cases, it is likely that a person infectious with measles was at one of the theme parks on these dates,” Chapman said, adding that patients infected with the virus could be infectious for nine days.

“If you have symptoms, and believe you may have been exposed, please contact your health care provider,” he said. “The best way to prevent measles and its spread is to get vaccinated.”

He said the infected patients ranged in age from 8 months to 21 years and that six were unvaccinated for measles, two of them because they were too young. One of the patients had received the appropriate vaccination

Measles typically begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by the appearance of a red rash that typically starts on the face and spreads downward.

Chapman said seven of the confirmed cases and three of the suspected cases were people living in California. The other two confirmed cases involved Utah residents who visited the amusement parks during the relevant time period.

Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement the company was working with the California health department to provide information and assistance.

Measles is a sometimes deadly viral disease that can spread very swiftly among unvaccinated children.

There is no specific treatment and most people recover within a few weeks. But in poor and malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia.

In 2013, more than 70 percent of global measles deaths were in six countries - India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney

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