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Itchy, watery eyes. A climbing fever. The gradual appearance of a rosy red rash. Travelers may have reason to worry if they’ve visited Los Angeles recently and are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is investigating a new confirmed case of measles in a Los Angeles County resident and an additional non-resident who traveled throughout the county. As of May 4, the department said a total of eight measles cases among Los Angeles County residents have been reported this year, as well as six non-resident cases of the disease that traveled throughout the county.
Health officials say individuals who were at LAX Terminal 2 on April 30 from 7:45 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. or May 1 from 7:10 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. may be at risk of developing measles up to 21 days after being exposed. Others at risk are those who were on the LAX employee shuttle on April 30 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and May 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
The individuals carrying the disease had returned to Southern California from overseas. They were not linked to other recent cases, which resulted in quarantines at UCLA and California State University, Los Angeles.
“The best way to protect yourself from measles is to get vaccinated. All children and non-immune adults should be vaccinated against measles,” Long Beach Health Officer Anissa Davis told NBC Los Angeles. “If you are unsure of your vaccination status, contact your provider to make sure you are up-to-date.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of measles cases result from international travel. The disease makes its way into the United States by infecting unvaccinated people. On average, two out of three unvaccinated travelers are Americans.
Measles is most commonly spread through coughing and sneezing. The CDC reports that the disease is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.
“It is very important if you or someone you know has symptoms of measles or has been exposed to measles to contact your healthcare provider by phone right away before going in,” Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer said in a press release.
“We will likely see additional measles cases in Los Angeles County, so if you are not already immune to measles, the best way to protect yourself and to prevent the spread of measles is to get the measles immunization, with two doses of measles immunization being about 97 percent effective at preventing measles.”
Individuals who have not experienced symptoms for more than 21 days after exposure are not considered to be at risk. Measles immunizations are available at health care providers, local pharmacies and health clinics.