State health departments in California, Colorado, Utah and Washington and have confirmed cases of the extremely contagious virus, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday. Taken together, the cases would account for almost 12% of the expected measles cases for the entire year (there are 220 cases per year on average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The CDC calls measles the “most deadly of all childhood rash/fever illnesses”. Measles is a virus that lives in the nose and throat of those infected, and causes fever, rash, red eyes and coughing. Though there is a vaccine that is commonly given, an anti-vaccination movement has gained traction in the US despite widespread scientific criticism and debunking of the movement’s claims.
The California department of public health said on 7 January that officials believe the woman who started the outbreak was staying in the Disneyland theme park in December. According to the LA Times, the woman is believed to be an unvaccinated traveler in her 20s.
The woman became sick and contagious on 28 December while at the theme park. From there, the LA Times reports, she flew from Orange County to Snohomish County in Washington state. She then returned to Orange County on 3 January, and California health officials announced the outbreak on 7 January.
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