Of the 15 cases, three are in people who traveled to the Philippines, where a large outbreak is occurring, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Two more cases are in recently returned travelers from India, where measles is endemic. Nearly half of the cases -- seven -- are in people who were "intentionally not vaccinated," said Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist with the CDPH.
"Today I am asking unvaccinated Californians who are traveling outside the Americas to get vaccinated before you go," Chavez said.
The measles vaccine is highly effective. It is administered in two doses, as part of the measles-mumps-rubella shot, or MMR. The first dose is given to toddlers at 12-15 months, and the second is recommended before children start kindergarten. CDC guidelines also clearly state that infants who are being taken for travel internationally can receive the first dose as young as 6 months. Two doses provide about 98 percent protection against measles, said Kathleen Harriman, with the CDPH. If you have had the measles, you are also protected.
Measles is one of the most contagious viral illnesses, marked by a fever as high as 105 degrees, cough, runny nose and rash. One-third of cases result in complications ranging from diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, seizures and "in some cases death is the final outcome," Chavez said.