Measles outbreak: L.A. County among highest-risk areas for measles, study says

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County is now listed as one of the top counties in the nation at risk for measles.

According to a new study published in The Lancet, the reason is partly because of travelers. The large volume of international flights arriving daily makes L.A. the second most vulnerable county in the country to the measles outbreak.

So far this year, at least seven people with measles have come through Los Angeles International Airport and one through the Long Beach Airport.

The top area at risk is Cook County, Illinois, where Chicago O'Hare Airport is located.

Three of the L.A. County measles cases were imported from other countries.

"There is so much measles in the world right now. There are very, very large outbreaks abroad that we expect to continue to have importations of measles over the next few months," said Dr. Sharon Balter, the director of communicable disease of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "We don't know how long. It will depend on how much measles stays in the world."

The Lancet study compared vaccination rates in each county with numbers of international travelers coming from places experiencing major outbreaks such the Philippines, Urkraine, Vietnam and Thailand.

"Measles comes into the U.S. mostly from countries that don't have a great vaccination protocol and measles exists," said Dr. Armand Dorian.

Balter says a big reason why local outbreaks haven't expanded into bigger ones is because of California's high vaccination rate. She urges anyone especially those traveling who are unsure of their immunity to get another vaccine dose.

"A lot of the people we worry in the community about are the people who can't be vaccinated - very young infants, people who are immune compromised," Balter said. "The vaccine is so safe and effective that we really want everyone to get immunized."

Balter said if you have children, you should speak to your pediatrician, because an infant can get vaccinated as young as 6 months old.
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