2/9/15: Health Alert

By | 2015-02-09

A large and ongoing outbreak of Measles cases has been reported in southern California, and includes cases in San Diego. The outbreak is being monitored closely by the health services team in the WELLNESS CENTER; they are prepared to respond quickly to any suspicion of Measles on campus. If you are exposed to Measles, you may be required to provide evidence of immunity. You may be “home quarantined” for 2-3 weeks and not be allowed to attend classes or remain in the residence halls if unimmunized, or until immunity is proven. This has happened recently at two Southern California high schools, initiated by the Department of Public Health.

Most of the recent cases have been linked to an exposure at Disneyland in mid-December. Measles is a highly contagious airborne viral illness that can lead to serious complications, or (rarely) death. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also likely become infected. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before to four days after the rash appears.
Symptoms usually begin 10-12 days (up to 21 days) after exposure. The symptoms are high fever, cough, and runny nose, red watery eyes, followed a few days later by a distinct red rash.

Fortunately, Measles can be prevented through vaccination. The MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine is a highly effective vaccine that is part of the routine childhood vaccine series in the U.S. and most foreign countries. The vast majority of individuals who contracted Measles in this recent San Diego/ Disneyland outbreak were unvaccinated.

The MMR vaccine is required for undergraduate enrollment at PLNU; a majority of undergraduate PLNU students are protected. University students who do not have evidence of immunity against measles need two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days. Two doses of the MMR vaccine, is 99% effective in preventing disease. If you have NOT received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine, you are at increased risk of measles. Again, if you are exposed to Measles, the Department of Public Health may require you to be “home quarantined” for 2 weeks. This could have significant impact as you will not be able to attend classes or remain in the residence halls.

If you have NOT submitted documentation of PLNU’s required immunizations and TB screening, it is highly recommended that you do so now, before a potential exposure.

If you’d like to discuss your risk, immunization status, receive a lab test to determine your immunity, or receive the vaccine, please call The WELLNESS CENTER at 619-849-2574.

If you are concerned about having measles symptoms, please isolate yourselves and call ahead to The WELLNESS CENTER and arrange to be evaluated without potentially increasing the spread of infection. Please call 619-849-2574.

More information about Measles can be found at the CDC measles website.