Disneyland may be the happiest place on Earth, but now it seems you can pay a visit to the beloved theme park and bring home more than just a pair of mouse ears. Disney has proven to us all that it is a small world after all, as a recent measles outbreak has now been traced to its California theme park.
Dozens of individuals across the country have come down with the measles since visiting the California's Disneyland between December 15 and December 20. Measles is the most highly contagious disease humans can catch, and ninety percent of people without vaccinations that are exposed are likely to catch it--even if you visit a room up to two hours after an infected person has left.
This degree of infectiousness is particularly concerning for children that visit the park, as many are too young to be vaccinated. Vaccination is recommended for children beginning at 12-months of age, but for those that have chosen not to vaccinate their children, a trip to Disneyland may have put them at risk for infection of the disease.
"This happened exactly where you would expect to see this happen - in a place where people from different parts of the country congregate in one spot," Director of the Vaccine Education Center and an Attending Physician with the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Paul Offit says. "It's not surprising that it happened in a southern California theme park because southern California over the past few years has had pretty woeful rates of vaccination."
Currently, the most recent count is 26 cases, including 22 confirmed cases in California, two in Utah, one in Colorado and one in Washington state. However, this could worsen as it has been discovered that one unvaccinated woman that has recently been diagnosed with the disease traveled by plane between Orange County and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, potentially exposing many more to the measles.
The virus spreads through respiratory droplets that are sent airborne by a cough or sneeze. "You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been - even if the person is gone," health officials with the CDC say.
Measles begin with a fever, then coughing, runny nose, red eyes and finally a rash that begins on the head and spreads to the rest of the body. The rash can last for as long as a week, and coughing can continue for as long as ten days.
Most of the individuals infected in this latest outbreak either weren't vaccinated because of their parents' choice or were simply too young to be vaccinated. Over the last decade an anti-vaccination movement has gained momentum driven by parents who question the safety of these inoculations. This movement continues to gain traction despite the fact that scientists have discredited the idea that vaccines can trigger autism and other disorders, in the process of protecting their children from horribly viral diseases like these.