"Whenever there are those who choose not to be vaccinated, whenever you have an international population, and whenever you have jet planes that arrive here daily, you have the risk of introducing communicable disease."
Pam Cameron, associate director of public health, quality improvement and specialty services at University Health Services, Daily Cal
In early February, a UC Berkeley student who attended classes and commuted to and from campus on BART was diagnosed with measles. Campus officials worked with Contra Costa Health Services, the California Department of Public Health, and the City of Berkeley Public Health to notify anyone who may have been exposed to the disease. Two relatives of the student also came down with the disease. No other people have been identified as being exposed to measles related to this individual. The contagious period has now passed.
Although there are no more cases associated with the individual on campus, the Bay Area continues to see active cases of measles. Please follow the current recommendations: 1) assess your risk level, (2) review your immunization records, and get the MMR vaccine if you haven't already, and 3) watch for symptoms, stay home if you are sick and contact your health provider.
GENERAL FAQs -
- What is measles?
- Who is at risk?
- What are the symptoms?
- Who can get measles?
- How is measles spread?
- What should I do if I think I have measles?
- Where can I learn more about measles?
- Where can I get the MMR vaccine?
- Isn't the MMR vaccine one of the requirements for enrollment
WHO IS AT RISK?
Most people are vaccinated or have had measles before and are therefore unlikely to catch measles, even if they had contact with a contagious person. Individuals who have not had measles or the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine are at risk for measles. Health officials urge anyone who shows symptoms of measles should stay home and contact their healthcare provider. Pregnant women and those who have weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or cancer, should contact their provider if they are unsure if they have had the MMR vaccine or measles in the past.
IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR IMMUNE COMPROMISED contact your obstetrician or healthcare provider immediately to let him or her know that you may have been exposed to measles and to find out what the next steps are for you. Examples of immune compromised persons include people with a bone marrow transplant or on chemotherapy treatment.
IF YOU ARE NOT PREGNANT OR IMMUNE COMPROMISED, review these questions to see if you are at risk for getting measles (susceptible) or not at risk (immune):
-Did you receive at least one dose of measles vaccine in the past? This vaccine is called MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine – check your immunization records.
--Were you born after 1970, and attended US public elementary schools and did not have a personal beliefs or medical exemption to the immunization?
-Were you born before 1957?
-Have you had a blood test showing you are immune to measles?
-Did you have measles in the past?
-Did you receive a green card on or after 1996?
-Were you ever in active duty military?
If you answered YES to ANY of these questions, you are likely protected from getting measles (immune), but you would still want to watch for symptoms.
If you answered NO to ALL of these questions, you may be at risk for getting measles (susceptible) from this or future exposures. Please contact your healthcare provider.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
“Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, health officer for the City of Berkeley. “It spreads through the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”
Measles symptoms can begin one to three weeks after exposure and can include high fever, runny nose, coughing and watery red eyes. A rash develops on the face and neck two to three days after the fever begins, and spreads down the body. The rash usually lasts five or six days. An infected person is contagious for several days before and after the rash appears.
WHO CAN GET MEASLES?
Unvaccinated people exposed to measles are very likely to become sick. People who have received measles (MMR) vaccine or have had measles disease are unlikely to catch the disease, even if they were in contact with a sick person. Pregnant women and those who have weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or cancer, should contact their provider if they are unsure whether they have had MMR vaccine or measles in the past.
HOW IS MEASLES SPREAD?
Measles virus spreads through the air, when a sick person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread through contact with a sick person’s nose and throat secretions. The virus can survive in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours.
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT MEASLES?
For more information about measles, visit cchealth.org/measles or cdc.gov/measles.
Contra Costa County residents can also call (925)313-6740.
City of Berkeley residents can call (510) 981-5300.
Berkeley students can contact University Health Services Advice Nurse at (510) 643-7197.
Isn't the MMR vaccine one of the requirements for enrollment?
The MMR vaccine is not a required vaccination as a condition of enrollment at UC Berkeley, only Hepatitis B. We strongly recommended students get the MMR if they haven't already before they begin classes; see our new student checklist.