The number of reported cases of measles and flu deaths in the state of California have increased considerably from last year’s statistics, California Department of Public Health officials announced Monday.
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Number of Reported Measles Cases Reaches 32
CDPH has received reports of 32 confirmed measles cases in California residents so far this year, a notable difference from the three reported cases at this time last year, according to a news release by CDPH.
After 10 confirmed measles cases in Los Angeles County alone, the L.A. County Department of Public Health encourages residents who have not received all recommended doses of a measles-containing vaccine to arrange for vaccination, and those with measles-like symptoms to consult a medical provider immediately, according to a news release by the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
“Because we have high vaccination rates, measles cases are rare and it is unusual to see this level of measles activity,” said Jonathan Fielding, director of Public Health and county health officer at the Department of Public Health. “Most measles cases in the United States are imported from travelers who have spent time in areas of the world where measles is more common. Among the confirmed cases in Los Angeles County, eight are believed to have been linked to international travel and two cases are currently under investigation.”
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, causing symptoms that include fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes and a rash that typically appears first on the face, along the hairline and behind the ears before spreading to the rest of the body, CDPH officials said.
Infected people are usually contagious for about four days before their rash starts and four days after, with possible complications including diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia and even death. Infants, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible to complications, CDPH officials said.
“Immunization is the best defense against measles, with 99 percent of persons developing immunity after two doses,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, state health officer and director of CDPH. “With an outbreak in the Philippines and measles transmission ongoing in many parts of the world outside of North and South America, we can expect to see more imported cases of this vaccine-preventable disease.”
Imported cases can spread to the community, especially among unvaccinated people and infants too young to be vaccinated. These cases have been reported in a variety of places throughout California, including Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties, according to the CDPD news release.
While high immunization rates in California have kept preventable diseases like measles at record lows during the past 20 years, the number of cases per year in California has ranged from four to 40 cases since 2000, when measles was declared eliminated in the United States, CDPH officials said.
During that time period, almost all measles cases in the United States have been linked to travel to areas of the world where measles still circulates. Among the 32 reported cases this year, seven had traveled to the Philippines, where a large outbreak is occurring, two had traveled to India and one to Vietnam, where measles is common, according to the news release.
“Measles is a highly contagious disease,” Fielding said. “If you are not vaccinated and are exposed, there is a 90 percent chance that you will become infected. You can also be infected by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even after that person has left the room. This is why it is so critical that children and adults receive all recommended measles vaccinations, especially since we are seeing an increase in measles activity.”
For more information about recommended vaccinations to protect against measles, click here to visit the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s website.
Number of Confirmed Flu Deaths Reported in California Reaches 332
The number of confirmed influenza-related deaths in California residents under the age of 65 from the 2013-14 flu season has reached 332, including seven pediatric deaths, but not including an additional 19 deaths currently under investigation, CDPH officials said.
Last year, only 106 deaths were reported in California for the entire 2012-13 season, according to the news release.
However, outpatient visits and hospitalizations are at or below expected baseline levels for this time of year and the majority of reported deaths in those under the age of 65 have occurred in people with underlying medical conditions, CDPH officials said.
CDPH officials will continue to monitor statewide influenza activity and resources, and advise those at highest risk, including the elderly, pregnant women, infants or those with other health conditions, to contact their physician promptly if they have flu symptoms in order to get the most effective treatment, according to the news release.
To get vaccinated, visit a flu vaccine location near you or contact your local health department about free or low-cost immunizations.
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