Measles outbreak continues to spread; hospitals on alert

Denise Dador Image
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Measles outbreak continues to spread; hospitals on alert
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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has notified hospitals to be on the lookout for measles cases as the contagious disease continues to spread.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Local public health officials confirm that a Cal State University Channel Islands student has measles. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Health Department has reported 10 new cases of measles, nine of which have been linked to the Disneyland outbreak.

On Friday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to hospitals to be on the lookout for measles cases. But just a few weeks ago, this wasn't the case when Maura Rocio Tellez, 24, of South Pasadena got infected.

On December 18, Tellez and a friend celebrated their birthdays at Disneyland. About two weeks later, a red rash appeared on her face and then spread to her arms.

She says the rash wasn't painful or itchy, which is a very telling symptom of measles. Yet when she went to the emergency room, none of the doctors had measles on their radar. They told her it was probably the flu, but Tellez was scared and frustrated.

"It was hard, you know, being that sick with that high of a fever like the highest it got was 104.5," Tellez said.

Besides having the long running high fever, Tellez had a hacking cough, red eyes and extreme weakness.

Only after media reports about an outbreak in Disneyland did Tellez's family get confirmation it was measles.

Shadows of the rash remain along Tellez's body, along with an IV scar she got after being treated for dehydration.

"It was just terrible like I couldn't do anything. I like just stayed in bed," she said.

List of potential exposure locations and times

Experts say measles is one of the most contagious viruses in existence. It can be transmitted four days before symptoms appear and up to four days after the appearance of the red rash.

Tellez can't remember being around anyone who seemed sick.

The virus can survive on surfaces for two hours and remain suspended in the air for the same amount of time.

Tellez didn't get vaccinated because she says her brother had a severe reaction to another childhood vaccine, and her mom was afraid the other siblings would have the same reaction.

But after this experience, Tellez says she's considering getting caught up on her other childhood vaccinations, and now, she's looking at the bright side.

"I'm actually very glad that I got the measles just 'cause now I'm immune for life," she said.

Those who were born before 1957 are considered to have immunity against the measles. Adults who are unsure about their immunity are advised to get the vaccine.

For more information about measles, visit publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip/DiseaseSpecific/Measles.htm.