People who aren't vaccinated against measles should stay away from Disneyland, California health officials said this week, after an outbreak in the state was traced back to the popular theme park. As The Wall Street Journal reports, officials on Wednesday confirmed 59 cases of the disease in California, of which 42 have been linked to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. So far, five Disneyland employees have been diagnosed with measles, a highly contagious disease that typically begins with a high fever, runny nose, and bloodshot eyes, before leading to a red rash. An additional eight related cases have been identified in Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Mexico.
The US declared measles eliminated in 2000, but cases have recently risen at alarming rates, as parents have misguidedly opted to not vaccinate their children against the disease. Last year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 644 cases across 27 states, the most since 2000. Experts fear that increased vaccination exemption rates could lead to further outbreaks in California, where the anti-vaccine movement has gained troubling traction in some areas.
"We can expect to see many more cases of this preventable disease unless people take measures to prevent it," Dr. Gilberto F. Chávez, deputy director of the California Center for Infectious Diseases, tells The New York Times. "I am asking unvaccinated Californians to consider getting vaccinated against measles."
Officials say it will be difficult to trace the Disneyland outbreak to one person, though they believe it likely may have started with an infected person who was visiting from overseas, or someone who had just returned from a trip abroad.