SANTA ANA, Calif. – Seven Californians and two people in Utah have confirmed cases of measles likely contracted on trips last month to Disney theme parks in California, state officials said Wednesday.
Three more California residents are suspected of having measles in cases still under investigation. All patients with confirmed or suspected cases of the illness visited Disneyland or Disney California Adventure between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
They likely got it at one of the parks then, officials said, adding people can be infectious with the airborne illness for nine days. Those infected range from 8 months to 21 years old.
The seven Californians with confirmed cases are from five different areas of the state. Six were not vaccinated against the disease, including two who were too young to be vaccinated.
Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the state’s Department of Public Health, urged anyone who might have been exposed to check with a doctor.
“The best way to prevent measles and its spread is to get vaccinated,” he said in a statement.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in an infected person’s nose and throat mucus and spreads through coughing and sneezing.
“Also, measles virus can live for up to two hours on a surface or in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed,” the centre’s website says. “If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected.”
Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes and a red rash that usually first appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.
Disney officials said they had not received any reports of staff contracting measles. Park officials are working with the health department to provide any necessary information, said Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
Health officials more than a decade ago declared measles eliminated in the United States because of a lack of continuous transmission of the illness. However, Disney and other theme parks draw visitors from many parts of the world, including areas where measles is endemic, the health department said.