Health officials: Nine people who visited Disneyland in December have confirmed cases of measles

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CALIFORNIA (WITI) -- Nine people who visited Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in December have confirmed cases of measles, California public health officials announced Wednesday, January 7th. This, according to FOX6's sister station KTLA in Los Angeles.

Three further suspected cases of the highly infectious, airborne viral disease are under investigation, according to a news release from the California Department of Public Health.

All of the confirmed and suspected cases were for individuals who reported visiting the Anaheim theme parks between December 15th and December 20th, the release stated.

The full release from the California Department of Public Health reads as follows:

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has been notified of seven confirmed cases of measles in patients from five different locations within California it was reported today by Dr. Ron Chapman, CDPH director and state health officer. Two Utah resident cases have also been confirmed and three additional California residents are also suspected to have measles and are under investigation. All confirmed and suspect cases reported visiting Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in Orange County, California sometime between December 15th and December 20th, 2014.

Based on information from current cases, it is likely that a person infectious with measles was at one of the theme parks on these dates. People can be infectious with measles for nine days. Measles typically begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes and within a few days a red rash appears, usually first on the face and then spreads downward to the rest of the body. Measles is a highly infectious, airborne disease.

Measles has been eliminated in the United States since 2000. However, large measles outbreaks have occurred in Western Europe, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines in recent years. Travelers to areas where measles is endemic can bring measles back to the U.S., resulting in limited domestic transmission of measles. Disney and other theme parks in California are international attractions and visitors come from many parts of the world, including those where measles is endemic.

Two doses of measles-containing vaccine (MMR vaccine) are more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles. Measles vaccines have been available in the United States since 1963, and two doses have been recommended since 1989. If you are unsure of your vaccination status, check with your doctor to have a test to check for measles immunity or to receive vaccination.

The California confirmed cases reside in five local health jurisdictions (Alameda, Orange, Pasadena, Riverside, and San Diego) and range in age from 8 months to 21 years. Six cases were unvaccinated for measles (two were too young to be vaccinated), and one had received appropriate vaccination (two doses of MMR vaccine). Several large contact investigations are ongoing.

Health care providers treating patients with fever and a rash should consider measles, and ask patients about travel to international destinations and domestic venues that are popular with international travelers.

More information about measles can be found on the CDPH website.

In a one-sentence statement, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ chief medical officer, Dr. Pamela Hymel told KTLA the company was “working with the health department to provide any information and assistance we can.”

“If you have symptoms, and believe you may have been exposed, please contact your health care provider. The best way to prevent measles and its spread is to get vaccinated," state health officer Dr. Chapman said.

Children typically get their first dose of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine at 12 months old or later, and then a second dose before kindergarten.

Measles has been eliminated in the U.S. since 2000, but travelers to parts of the world where measles is widespread or where outbreaks have occurred can bring the disease to America, according to the state health department.

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