California health officials on Friday declared an end to an important measles outbreak that had its start at Disneyland and prompted a national debate about vaccinations.
Disease specialists tried to contain the highly contagious disease for months. The outbreak surfaced at Disney theme parks in December. The disease spread to a half-dozen U.S. states, but also in Mexico and Canada. The outbreak contaminated 147 people in the U.S., 131 of them being in California. There were no deaths recorded.
Authorities form the California Department of Public Health said no new cases have been reported for the past 42 days, meaning the outbreak has come to a stop in the U.S.
“Having this measles outbreak behind us is a significant accomplishment,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist.
Many of the contaminated people were not immunized against measles. Some of them offered personal reasons for not taking the shots, while others were too young to get the vaccine which targets measles-mumps-rubella .
The Disneyland incident prompted state lawmakers to push forward a bill that would prevent parents from seeking vaccine exemptions for their children by citing personal beliefs. The proposed legislation has provoked large debates. A vote on the matter will happen next week.
Doctors explained the outbreak could have been far worse if it wasn’t for the aggressive public health answer. This response ment tracking down thousands of people who were potentially exposed to measles patients, but also isolating those contaminated until they were no longer contagious.
Disneyland outbreak is over in the United States, but it’s still an issue in the Canadian province of Quebec. Here, 159 people caught the disease after someone visited Disneyland and returned home. Most are part of a religious community which has a low vaccination rate.
Measles has been wiped out in the U.S. for more than ten years, but outbreaks still happen when people become infected abroad and spread the disease among populations who were not vaccinated in their home country.
Officials said they may never find out who sparked the Disneyland outbreak but they think it was someone who was contaminated with the virus overseas and was present at the theme park while contagious.
Forty-two people were first exposed to measles while at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in Orange County in December. This group then spread the disease to tens of family members, health officials said. Almost 20 percent had to be hospitalized.
Image Source: Los Angeles Times