Students and faculty at two schools have been exposed as number of US measles cases hits 25-year high
More than 900 students and staff members at two Los Angeles universities were quarantined on campus or sent home this week in one of the most sweeping efforts yet by public health authorities to contain the spread of measles in the US, where cases have reached a 25-year high.
By Friday afternoon, two days after Los Angeles county ordered the precautions, about 200 of those affected had been cleared to return after proving their immunity to the disease, through either medical records or tests, school officials said.
Cal State-LA reported 656 students and staff still under quarantine, while UCLA said it had fewer than 50.
Those under the quarantine one of the biggest in state history, the Los Angeles Times reported were instructed to stay at home and avoid contact with others, though it wasnt clear how those orders might be enforced or what penalties violators might face.
Measles actually kills people. So we have to take that really seriously, said Dr Armand Dorian, chief medical officer at the University of Southern Californias Verdugo Hills hospital.
We have arranged for those who live on campus to be cared for at UCLA while they are quarantined, the UCLA chancellor, Gene Block, said in a statement on Wednesday. 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.
The quarantine comes as the number of measles cases in the US this year hit a quarter-century high, despite being declared all but eliminated from the country in 2000. Colleges and universities are an area of concern for public health officials, the Los Angeles Times reported, because the current generation of college students were infants when Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced former British physician, began spreading the false idea that vaccines were linked to autism.
The so-called Wakefield generation has lower rates of vaccination than other age groups, the Times reported.
Asmall outbreak of measles is occurring in Los Angeles county involving five confirmed cases linked to overseas travel.
State health officials say the number of measles cases is up in California this year and much of the increase is linked to overseas travel.
Dr Karen Smith, director of the California department of public health, says the state recorded 38 measles cases as of Thursday, versus 11 around the same time last year.
She says the state typically sees fewer than two dozen cases a year.
This year, Californias cases stretch across 11 counties and affect patients from five months to 55 years of age.
She says more than 76% of patients were not vaccinated or did not receive the recommended two doses of vaccine.
Fourteen of those infected had traveled overseas to countries including Philippines, Thailand, India and Ukraine.
Measles symptoms include high fever, a cough and a rash.