The magical world of Disneyland in Anaheim, California is a favorite destination for millions of children around the world to visit but recently Disneyland has received negative publicity for being the source of a measles outbreak. More than 70 people including 5 park employees in the last few weeks of January have contracted the measles virus, a disease thought to be near eliminated in the United States. How has the disease suddenly resurfaced and why is it spreading so quickly?
The measles virus is an airborne respiratory virus that causes fever, cough, runny nose, pink eyes, sore throat, and red rashes. In severe cases, pneumonia can develop causing fatality. The virus is spread from germs sprayed while coughing or touching shared spaces with those who have the measles. People with the measles will often not start showing symptoms of the virus until 10 to 15 days after being infected. And to make matters worse the average person with measles infects between 11 to 15 people before the contagion period is over. This makes measles one of the most contagious viruses.
The one salvation we have against the disease is most United States citizens are vaccinated. It is recommended people receive the measles vaccination shot in two doses. The second shot is typically administered 3 months after receiving the first. Most children in the United States receive their first shot at 12 months and second one at 15 months.
With most of the U.S. population vaccinated, how did this outbreak happen? Health experts believe a tourist from another country may have started the outbreak in the United States while visiting Disneyland. The US does not monitor or require tourists to be measles vaccinated to enter our country. Nor do they require US citizens to get vaccinated. Some people for religious beliefs or out of fear of side effects from the vaccination elect to not get it. Also people who are allergic to the vaccination cannot receive it. It puts these people along with infants too young to receive the vaccination at high risk of contracting the virus. Health officials warn parents with small infants to avoid visiting the park and urge those whom have not been vaccinated to do so.
Even with the vaccination, not all people develop immunity to the measles. There is a chance of coming down with the measles after already being vaccinated. While this is a minute probability, health officials council to take precautionary measures to limit exposure.