Measles quar­an­tine is or­dered at two LA univer­si­ties

The Tribune (SLO) - - Insight - BY SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA

Amid a measles out­break in Los An­ge­les, health of­fi­cials an­nounced Thurs­day that more than 300 stu­dents and staff mem­bers at UCLA and Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity at L.A. who have been ex­posed to measles will be quar­an­tined for at least a day.

A Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los An­ge­les stu­dent di­ag­nosed with measles pos­si­bly ex­posed 500 peo­ple to the in­fec­tion while go­ing to class in early April.

Of those peo­ple, 119 stu­dents and eight fac­ulty mem­bers have not yet pro­vided med­i­cal records show­ing that they are immune to measles, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the univer­sity.

Around the same time, a per­son who vis­ited Cal State L.A.’s li­brary while in­fected with measles pos­si­bly en­coun­tered hun­dreds of em­ploy­ees, some of whom are stu­dents. One hun­dred ninety-eight of them could not pro­vide their im­mu­niza­tion records, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the univer­sity.

L.A. County pub­lic health of­fi­cials de­cided to quar­an­tine those 325 peo­ple for 24 to 48 hours un­til their proof of im­mu­nity is es­tab­lished, the UCLA state­ment said. Some may need to be quar­an­tined for up to a week.

“I know there is con­cern about measles, par­tic­u­larly among the very small percentage of our com­mu­nity who have not been vac­ci­nated,” said UCLA Chan­cel­lor Gene Block in the state­ment. “Please be as­sured that we have the re­sources we need for preven­tion and treat­ment, and that we are work­ing very closely with lo­cal pub­lic health of­fi­cials on the mat­ter.”

In 2015, the UC sys­tem ap­proved a reg­u­la­tion re­quir­ing that stu­dents be fully vac­ci­nated be­fore en­rolling at any cam­pus. At Cal­i­for­nia univer­si­ties in the last decade, there have been out­breaks of mumps, menin­gi­tis and norovirus.

But amid push­back, UC of­fi­cials did not begin en­forc­ing the reg­u­la­tion un­til fall 2018, the be­gin­ning of the cur­rent school year. There­fore, most stu­dents at UCLA en­rolled be­fore the re­quire­ment took ef­fect.

Cal­i­for­nia im­ple­mented one of the coun­try’s strictest im­mu­niza­tion laws in 2016 to try to in­crease vac­ci­na­tion rates, but high school stu­dents and young adults who had al­ready fin­ished their school­ing when the law took ef­fect were not re­quired to com­ply. That has left a large pool of young peo­ple es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble to in­fec­tions, experts say.

This group in their early 20s is part of what’s known as the “Wake­field gen­er­a­tion,” be­cause they were in­fants in 1998 when Bri­tish sci­en­tist An­drew Wake­field pub­lished a now-dis­cred­ited pa­per claim­ing that vac­cines cause autism. Scared of the side ef­fects of vac­ci­na­tion, many par­ents chose to opt out.

The news comes on the same day Cal­i­for­nia health of­fi­cials an­nounced that 38 peo­ple had been in­fected with measles so far this year in the state, an in­crease of 15 from the pre­vi­ous week.

Na­tion­wide, 695 cases in 22 states this year had been re­ported as of Wed­nes­day evening, the most in the U.S. since 2000.

Over­all, Cal­i­for­nia’s high vac­ci­na­tion rates seem to have pre­vented small out­breaks from mush­room­ing the way they have else­where, experts say. Cal­i­for­nia’s largest out­break, in Butte County, has spread to 16 peo­ple. By con­trast, an out­break in New York City has in­fected more than 320.

Measles in most peo­ple causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. How­ever, a very small frac­tion of those in­fected can suf­fer com­pli­ca­tions such as pneu­mo­nia and a dan­ger­ous swelling of the brain.

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion rec­om­mends the vac­cine for ev­ery­one over a year old, ex­cept for peo­ple who had the dis­ease as chil­dren. Those who have had measles are immune.

The vac­cine, which be­came avail­able in the 1960s, is con­sid­ered safe and highly ef­fec­tive, and be­cause of it, measles was de­clared all but elim­i­nated in the U.S. in 2000.

KENT NISHIMURA TNS

The Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Los An­ge­les, shown in Fe­bru­ary, is one of two Cal­i­for­nia univer­si­ties where health of­fi­cials have or­dered the iso­la­tion of ex­posed stu­dents and staff in or­der to pre­vent the spread of measles. The other is Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity in Los An­ge­les.

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