A fifth case of measles has been confirmed in Orange County over the past nine weeks, officials said today.
In the latest confirmed case, the afflicted visited St. Joseph's emergency room, 1100 W. Stewart Drive, between 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Sunday, and between 7:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. Monday, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The disease is extremely contagious and can be spread through the air.
The rash of measles is rare because the county usually only sees about one or no cases annually, Nicole Stanfield of the Health Care Agency said.
The fourth person who contracted measles went to Del Taco, 7001 Katella Ave., Stanton from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Feb. 10 and 4 to 9 p.m. Feb. 13.
Then the afflicted also went to the Pueblo Medical Center, 8045 Cerritos Ave., Stanton, from 2 to 4 p.m., Feb. 11, Western High School in Anaheim on Feb. 13, and West Anaheim Medical Center, 3033 W. Orange Ave., Anaheim, from 8 to 11 a.m., Feb. 14.
Symptoms usually start 10 to 12 days after exposure, but sometimes up to three weeks, with a fever as high as 105 degrees, malaise, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis, or pink eye. Two to four days later, a rash develops, usually around the ears and hairline, that can spread to the face and arms and legs.
In the other three local cases, the patients went to area health care providers. More than 150 patients and their family and friends faced potential exposure and required their own evaluations.
Many had to undergo testing and receive vaccination.
Physicians were recently advised by the agency that any patients with measles symptoms should be isolated and given a surgical mask. Only healthcare workers who have immunity to the disease should care for the patients, according to the county.
Last month, Dr. Matt Zahn, the agency's medical director for epidemiology, said "multiple cases that have been identified in California have occurred after international travel. This has been an issue for years."
Measles is unusual in the U.S., so most people contract it in another country, Zahn said. In Orange County, those recently afflicted have traveled to and from the Philippines, Zahn said.
Unfounded skepticism of vaccinating children is also an issue, Zahn said.
"Parents are inundated with information questioning the value of vaccines," Zahn said, adding those claims are baseless.
The vaccine for measles works about 99 percent of the time, Zahn said.
--City News Service