Measles outbreak raises concerns

Photo courtesy of Beach Cities Health District
Photo courtesy of Beach Cities Health District

Photo courtesy of Beach Cities Health District

Although an outbreak of measles believed to have originated from Disneyland has caused a frenzy recently, it’s actually only a continuation of a long-term trend that began last year, according to the chief medical officer of the Beach Cities Health District, Dr. Lisa Santora.

“A lot of people don’t realize that there’s been an increase in measles in Calfiornia and the U.S. since early 2014,” she said.

For example, in April 2013, four cases were confirmed in California, Santora said. In April 2014, there were 40.

So far, there have been no confirmed cases of measles in the South Bay, according to Santora. However, she also said that there were no statistics for the region separate from Los Angeles County as a whole, which has had 19 confirmed cases since December 2014.

Santora also thinks that people are focusing too much on unvaccinated Americans without looking at the broader picture. Although the disease was eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, it is still common in other countries. Four of the ten lines of transmission in last April’s outbreak came from the Philippines.

“LAX is right next to us,” she said. “We think we’re small beach cities—we’re actually an international hub.”

Even so, she thinks the current focus on those who don’t get vaccines provides an opportunity to raise awareness among parents of the necessity of the vaccine.

“They underestimate the risk because they’ve never seen them,” she said.

More information is available now to parents than ever before, Santora said. She pointed to the results of a 12-year study published in the medical journal Pediatrics on Jan. 5 that reaffirmed the safety of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

“It’s a great time for parents to talk to their health provider about the risks and responsibilities” and what they need to know if they choose not to vaccinate their children, she said. ER

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