Public Health Department warns of measles outbreak

With cases of measles being reported in cities as close as Lancaster, Los Angeles and Long Beach, health officials are encouraging residents to get a booster if they’re worried about becoming infected.

Last week, after a sixth reported case in the county, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials warned the public about potential exposure to measles at locations like a Home Depot in Lancaster and multiple movie theaters in Southern California.

“With widespread outbreaks of measles happening in the United States and internationally, and local cases transmitted within Los Angeles County, the chance of exposure to measles is increased at this time,” the Department of Public Health’s website states. “Most people who have not been immunized against measles will get it if they have contact with the virus,” which is why it’s strongly encouraged to get immunized at your local doctor’s office, pharmacy or health clinic.

Symptoms of measles include: a fever that’s over 101 degrees, coughing, red and watery eyes, a runny nose and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body, according to the Department of Public Health. The virus is spread through a cough or sneeze and can still infect others up to two hours after an infected person has left the room.

“The incubation period for developing measles is up to 21 days after being exposed to someone else who has the disease,” and a person with measles is contagious four days before the rash appears and four days after, health officials said.

“Most patients who have the MMR vaccine and who have had multiple doses during their childhood will be immune, but there are some cases where people aren’t sure,” said family physician Dr. Christian Raigosa. “In that case, we can do blood tests to look to see if they are immune, and if they’re not, we can immunize on the spot.”

Raigosa added Kaiser Permanente patients can always contact their physician to schedule an appointment if they feel they need a booster.

“I think prevention is key,” he said.

To find a local Public Health clinic offering measles vaccinations, residents are encouraged to visit publichealth.lacounty.gov/chs/phcenters.htm orcall 211.

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