As public health officials have been working to curb the measles outbreak that began last month at Disneyland, they have run into an unexpected challenge: Because measles was all but eliminated in the United States about 15 years ago, most younger physicians have never seen it.
So now a generation of doctors is getting a crash course via a combination of methods, including informal workshops, emails, fliers and old college textbooks.
On a recent morning, Dr. Greg Moran, interim chief of emergency medicine at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, gave a quick seminar to a handful of residents, interns and other doctors during their daily huddle in the ER.
"Probably most of you young whippersnappers here have never seen a case of measles," he says, going on to explain when a rash might appear on a person with measles.
In fact, none of the students in the ad hoc workshop had ever seen a case. Before the development of a vaccine in the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of Americans got measles, and about 500 kids died every year, says Moran.