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Measles Exposure at Disneyland

By: Jiaqi Zhou

Photography: Jae C. Hong

A Los Angeles resident infected with measles visited the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, Orange County and a Starbucks store in Palms, Los Angeles on Oct. 16, potentially exposing hundreds to the disease. According to a news release by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, health officials issued warnings to visitors and suggested that they “should contact their health care providers if they have not been vaccinated.” 

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that develops symptoms of fever, cough and rash after 10 to 21 days of exposure. Infants and young children are at an increased risk for infection with death-threatening complications. 

The MMR vaccination is taken at a young age as a preventative measure for measles, mumps and other diseases. However, measles is dangerous due to its contagious nature. The disease is spread through the air from coughing or sneezing by those infected. 

“You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, up to two hours after that person is gone,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.

There have not been other measles cases related to Disneyland and Starbucks visit, but health officials are aiming to avoid an outbreak of disease after the accident in late 2014 that infected more than 100 people. 

In Jan. 2015, a group of experts from the CDC started investigating a major outbreak of measles that involved a total of 147 infection cases that were found from Dec. 2014 to Feb. 2015. Among them, 110 were California residents and 39% had visited Disneyland between Dec. 17 to Dec. 20. It was discovered that the majority of the people affected were not immunized to measles. 

Due to this event, the low measles vaccination rate was brought to public attention, and state legislators addressed the issue through legislation. However, six months after the outbreak in 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed California Senate Bill 277 (SB 277) that banned the exemption for school-required vaccinations due to personal or religious beliefs. This year, lawmakers passed SB 276, which requires the approval from the state health department to allow medical reasons as the exemption vaccinations and its companion bill SB 714.

The New University reached out to the UCI Student Health Center for a comment, but has not yet received a response.