In LA, UCLA and CSU asked students and faculty to stay home unless they can prove they’ve been vaccinated
After two different students in Los Angeles showed symptoms of the measles, the Los Angeles campuses of University of California and California State University quarantined hundreds of students, faculty, and staff.
According to a statement released by UCLA, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) alerted the school that one of its students had contracted the measles, and that while the person was contagious, they attended class on campus. In response, the school alerted about 500 students and staff that they may have been exposed and asked them to provide proof of vaccination. Most could provide paperwork, but 119 students and eight faculty members who could not were asked not to leave their homes until they were cleared.
“I want to assure you that campus epidemiologists and top health experts have been working very closely with local public health officials to ensure that notifications are made and proper care is provided to all who might be affected,” wrote Chancellor Gene Block.
Meanwhile at Cal State, school officials reported that someone who may have been contagious with the measles virus was at Library North on Thursday, April 11, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The school said 127 employees and 71 students “have been sent home under quarantine orders and told to stay home and avoid contact with others as much as possible.” Again, these students were allowed to resume their normal activities as soon as they proved that they were vaccinated.
“Both universities are assisting with the implementation of quarantine orders and determining how best to support students who must be quarantined and who live on campus,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said.
The California Department of Public Health reported that the number of confirmed measles cases in 2019 has grown from 23 to 38 in just the past week. The state reported 11 cases of measles in total last year.
LA County declared an official measles outbreak on Monday, April 22, after five cases were confirmed, with international travel being the culprit for the disease. Two of those cases involved the infected students from UCLA and CSU. They urged everyone to get vaccinated before traveling abroad, and to vaccinate any unvaccinated children. They also listed locations of potential exposure, which included the two campuses as well as the airport.
Nationally, measles cases have exploded this year with outbreaks occurring across the nation. For the first time in decades, over 700 cases have been reported in the United States in 2019, and the year isn’t even half over. Sixty-six people have been hospitalized. The vast majority of cases have involved non-vaccinated patients.
What’s the cause of the outbreak? While many outbreaks begin with international travel to regions where the disease is more common (due to a lack of immunizations), they can spread via people who are unvaccinated. Because of the growing anti-vaxx movement, immunization rates are dropping both in the United States and globally. The movement, which is fueled by misinformation and fear, has spread quickly with the help of social media platforms that act as echo chambers.
Two doses of the MMR vaccine are 97 percent effective at preventing measles.
The measles was declared eradicated in the United States back in 200o, but the number of cases has been rising quickly in recent years, as more and more people become “vaccine hesitant” – not just at home but also abroad. The disease is extremely contagious and can regularly have long-term health affects or be fatal. The best way to stop these increasingly frightening outbreaks? If everyone got vaccinated, we could eradicate it again, plain and simple.