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Update on Measles Outbreak


An outbreak of at least five measles cases has been identified in Los Angeles County, involving predominantly unvaccinated adults. As measles is highly contagious, healthcare providers must remain vigilant in recognizing additional measles cases.

Key Messages

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection spread through the air. Consider measles in any patient presenting with an acute febrile rash illness.

Testing for measles is performed through the Health Department as a send-out test.

Vaccination is very effective; two doses of the MMR vaccine is 97% effective at preventing infection, and immunity is lifelong.

If you suspect measles:

  • IMMEDIATELY isolate the patients from others; suspect measles patients should avoid common areas, such as waiting rooms. Inpatients should be placed in negative-pressure airborne isolation.
  • IMMEDIATELY report any suspected measles case to the Health Department (do not wait for confirmation). For ED and inpatients, immediately notify Hospital Epidemiology (available 24/7 via 310-423-5574), who will assist with Health Department reporting.

Additional Clinical Information

Measles symptoms typically begin with fever, and usually include cough, coryza (runny nose) and/or conjunctivitis. This is followed by a rash, typically beginning on the head and spreads downward. Measles is highly infectious through the air and can still infect others up to two hours after the infected person has left a room. Persons with measles are contagious from four days before until four days after the rash appears. Nearly everyone who is not immune to measles will acquire it if they are exposed to someone with measles. The incubation period for developing measles is up to 21 days after exposure. Key risk factors for acquiring measles include recent international travel, recent exposure to someone with measles and lack of immunity.

For more information see the websites of:

Los Angeles County Health Department
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you have questions, contact Hospital Epidemiology at 310-423-5574.

- Jonathan Grein, MD
Director, Hospital Epidemiology