We have followed the rapid spread of measles cases around the nation.

The last time we reported, a measles-infected visitor had stopped into Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters and public health officials had to issue appropriate warnings. Now, officials have declareda measles outbreak in Los Angeles County.

Public health officials in Los Angeles have declared a measles outbreak in the county, making it the latest metropolitan area to be hit by the illness and part of a national surge in cases rapidly approaching record numbers.

Five cases of measles are being investigated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Though vaccination rates are typically high in California, a single case can easily spread — not only to those who are not vaccinated, but also to infants who cannot yet receive immunization and to elderly patients with suppressed immune systems.

The epicenter of potential infections is around two of the area university campuses: UCLA and Cal State L.A. Not only were people potentially exposed to an infected person in public areas, California students of that age-range may not have their vaccinations..

…People who are now in their early 20s are part of what’s known as the “Wakefield generation,” because they were infants in 1998 when British scientist Andrew Wakefield published a now discredited paper claiming that vaccines cause autism. Scared of the side effects of vaccination, many parents chose to opt out.

California implemented one of the country’s strictest immunization laws in 2016 to try to increase vaccination rates, but high school students and young adults who had already finished their schooling when the law took effect were not required to comply. That has left a large pool of young people especially vulnerable to infections, experts say.

“Our eyes are always focused on these elementary schools … but [vaccine refusal] has been going on for a while now, so you have under-vaccinated kids becoming under-vaccinated adults,” said UC Riverside professor Richard M. Carpiano, a medical sociologist who studies vaccine hesitancy. “This is a higher education issue.”

Officials identified these points as those with potential measles exposure, which includes the 2 campuses and LAX.

  • LAX, Tom Bradley International Terminal, Gate 218 on April 1 from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • UCLA’s Franz Hall on April 2, 4,and 9 and Boelter Hall on April 2 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m;
  • Cal State Los Angeles’ main library, on April 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
  • El Pollo Loco restaurant, 1939 Verdugo Blvd., La Canada Flintridge, on April 11 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and
  • El Sauz Tacos, 4432 San Fernando Road, Glendale, on April 13 from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

LA County is offering free vaccinations for uninsured or under-insured individuals at public health clinics.

Measles cases in the United States have now officially surpassed the record that had been previously achieved after the virus was declared eliminated nationwide in 2000.

Overall, there have been 681 measles cases across 22 states this year, according to CNN’s analysis of data from state and local health departments.
Previously, the highest number of reported cases since elimination was 667 in 2014.

The states reporting measles cases are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

…”I do believe that parents’ concerns about vaccines leads to undervaccination, and most of the cases that we’re seeing are in unvaccinated communities,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said in February at a congressional hearing about measles outbreaks.

Nationally, the United States has high measles vaccination coverage. The CDC says 91.5% of US children aged 19 months to 35 months received at least one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in 2017, the most recent year available.

“However, there are pockets of people who are vaccine-hesitant,” Messonnier said.