The measles outbreak has spread to California as two patients were linked to the disease as of April 3, a result of international travel, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Measles is a highly contagious disease spread by air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles can cause a fever, rashes and may be fatal when it leads to pneumonia or brain swelling, especially for young children. An infected person can easily transmit the disease to 90 percent of the people around them if they are not protected from it, according to the U.S. surgeon general’s office.
Though it is extremely rare in the United States, the disease has spread to 18 other states, including Arizona, Colorado and Connecticut to name a few. Since April 4, there have been 465 cases of measles confirmed so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Health experts said the cause of the outbreak may be due to a public misconception that vaccinations cause autism.
“This is unfortunate, though not unexpected due to the circulating misinformation surrounding measles, mumps and rubella vaccine safety as it relates to autism in the U.S.,” said SF State’s staff physician Allan Lee.
There have been 17 confirmed measle cases in California as of April 3, according to CDPH. Case counts will continue to be updated every Thursday.
The CDC said in addition to California, current measles outbreaks (where three or more cases have been reported) occurred in the states of Washington, Michigan, New York and New Jersey.
Most people who contract measles are unvaccinated and the disease is still prominent in many countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Many measles cases in the U.S. originated from international travel. More than 89,000 people die from measles annually worldwide, according to the CDC.