State health official recommends measles vaccination amid breakout

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Friday, January 23, 2015
State health official recommends measles vaccination
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As the number of measles cases increases in Southern California, a state health official is urging unvaccinated individuals to get immunized.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As the number of measles cases increases in Southern California, a state health official is urging unvaccinated individuals to get immunized.

Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist and deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Health, warns unvaccinated people not to go to crowded places where there's been a known measles exposure. However, measles-exposed locations are safe for those who are vaccinated.

"I am asking unvaccinated Californians to consider getting immunized against measles to protect themselves, to protect their loved ones and to protect the community at large," Chavez said.

The measles virus spreads through coughing and sneezing. Infectious disease experts say it can stay suspended in the air for up to two hours and travel the length of a basketball court.

"With this outbreak in the state, we can expect to see many more cases of this vaccine-preventable disease unless people take precautionary measures," Chavez said.

To measure immunity, ask a doctor to check antibodies or serum titers for measles. A numerical value .75 means not enough antibodies exist, but anything over 1.0 equates to immunity.

Doctors say those who are unsure should go ahead and get the vaccine. The vast majority of those who contracted measles did not get the vaccine.

Doctors recommend children get the measles vaccine at 12 months, and then a second shot between four to six years old. Infants under the age of 12 months are too young get the vaccine.

Symptoms include a cough and runny nose. Those who contract measles are contagious four days before the red rash appears.