Measles Outbreak: Unvaccinated Visitors Told to Avoid Disneyland

Forty-nine of the 66 confirmed cases of measles have been traced back to the resort.

There’s an outbreak of measles linked to the theme park, and one of California’s top public health officials recommended that children under 12 months and people who’ve never had a measles vaccination stay away from the park while the disease event continues.

Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the state’s Center for Infectious Diseases, noted at a Wednesday news conference that Disneyland would be “perfectly safe” if you’ve been immunized.

Maricopa County health officials have linked a case of measles in the Phoenix area to the outbreak tied to Disneyland, according to a statement from the health department.

A woman in her 50s tested positive for measles after visiting Disneyland in mid-December, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Initially, cases were linked to people who visited the parks in mid-December, but health officials now say that other people with measles were at the parks in January while infectious and also have spread the disease.

“Measles is not a trivial illness,” state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez said Wednesday. “It can be very serious with devastating consequences.” Those consequences include pneumonia, encephalitis and even death. Before the measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, 500 people a year died of the disease nationwide. In the current outbreak, 25 percent of people with measles have been hospitalized.

“Measles is so contagious,” the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionsaid in a statement, “that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.”

“With people coming to Disneyland from all over the U.S. and world and then traveling back to their states and countries and potentially exposing vulnerable people around them, this is like an epidemiological case study of how measles virus can spread; we’re all holding our breath here, hoping it doesn’t land in unvaccinated communities,” said Patricia Stinchfield, director of Infection Prevention and Control and the Children’s Immunization Project at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. When it comes to communicable diseases, it really is a small world after all.

disneyland, epidemic, measles, outbreak