Skip to main content

Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Measles Outbreak Hits Home

Feb 24, 2015 12:00AM

Red bumps, fever, and a cough are popping up in kids again. Measles is apparently making a national come back, and California has been the hardest hit. Since December 2014, there have been 113 confirmed cases in California, two of them in Marin County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the majority of cases in this recent multi-state outbreak can be linked to a Disneyland in Orange County, California. Those traveling in areas of the world where measles is still common, such as parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa, can bring the disease to the United States. According to the CDC, this current outbreak was most likely begun by an infectious international traveler who visited Disneyland. Last year, the US experienced a record 644 measles cases in 27 states, the most reported cases since the disease was officially eliminated in the US in 2000.

High immunization rates are needed to achieve herd immunity, or general immunity to a disease in a population. Once immunization rates fall below the herd immunity threshold, a disease can easily spread throughout a community. According to Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director and state epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health, because measles is such an infectious disease, the threshold is an immunization rate of 92–94 percent. Once rates fall below these levels, the disease may reappear.

The percentage of local kindergarteners who have received required immunizations, including the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, are as follows: Marin County 84.16%, Sonoma County 90.05%, Mendocino County 81.19%, Lake County 90.89%. To find out more about the measles outbreak, see cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html. For a list of measles symptoms, see mayoclinic.org.