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Northern CA movie theater patron had measles. The U.S. outbreak toll is nearing a record

This is why measles is so dangerous

Cleveland Clinic explains how measles comes on, develops, can get complicated and how to prevent the infectious disease.
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Cleveland Clinic explains how measles comes on, develops, can get complicated and how to prevent the infectious disease.

An adult who visited a Redding movie theater last week is Shasta County’s third reported case of measles, county health officials said, and figures released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control report put the disease’s aggressive, near-record cross-country march into even sharper focus.

The adult who went to the movies April 16 is isolated at a Redding-area hospital, said Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency officials, who stressed Monday there is no further danger to people who attended the Cinemark Redding 14.

However, Shasta County officials, acting “out of an abundance of caution,” urged theatergoers who visited the movie complex at 980 Old Alturas Road between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on April 16 to watch for symptoms and tell their physician if any appear.

The latest case was first reported by the Redding Record-Searchlight.

The CDC report Monday shows the wide swath the virus has cut so far this year: 626 reported cases across the country as of April 19 – the second-greatest number of reported cases since measles was eradicated 19 years ago.

Only the 667 reported cases by this date in 2014 were more than this year’s total, according to the CDC. The cases included a mass 383-case outbreak largely in Ohio’s Amish country. A multi-state outbreak in 2015 linked to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in Orange County totaled 147 cases.

But federal health officials who released the study Monday predict 2019 measles reports will pass 2014’s levels “in the coming weeks.”

Symptoms are a cough, runny nose and red or pink eyes. A tell-tale rash that signals measles doesn’t show up until a few days later. By the time a rash develops, health officials said, a person has already been contagious four days.

The case confirmed Saturday was the third treated in Shasta County and the second Shasta County resident, said Shasta health and human services spokeswoman Kerri Schuette. One of those who contracted measles was a Tehama County resident, Schuette said.

The latest case is related to the county’s second case, which was identified April 11, county health officials said in a prepared statement. In the April 11 case, the infected person had visited a local market, a nightclub and two health providers – Shasta Regional Medical Center and Shasta Community Medical Center – in Redding between April 3 and April 8 and was an Uber customer on three of the days, according to Shasta health officials.

Health officials gave each of the locations the all-clear but issued a stern warning to others not to go out in public without first calling a hospital or physician to prevent spreading the disease.

Measles, vanquished in 2000, has returned with a fury sweeping through nearly two-dozen states, including California where officials have confirmed at least 23 cases. Of those, Butte County, near Shasta County, confirmed another three cases Friday, bringing its total to 10. Placer County has reported three cases.

Butte County is home to one of six such ongoing outbreaks reported to the CDC nationwide, including those in New Jersey, Michigan Washington state and in New York, where health officials are scrambling to control the country’s largest outbreak. More than 300 cases have been reported so far in New York with more reports feared following gatherings for Easter and Passover.

All of the Butte cases are linked to a March 24 measles cluster in a county still recovering from November’s deadly, destructive Camp Fire, flooding along the fire’s burn scar and reports now of toxic benzene that has contaminated the fire-ravaged town of Paradise’s water supply.

Across California, health officials and residents are grappling with the specter of the virus.

Last week, employees at Google’s Mountain View headquarters in Santa Clara County were warned that they may have been exposed by a man from San Mateo County, where four cases have been confirmed as of April 17. Earlier this month, on April 3, University of California, Davis alerted 200 people about their possible exposure to the highly contagious virus March 17 at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

Shasta’s three cases are still more than enough for alarm, Schuette said.

“We’ve had more (cases) this year than in the recent past for sure,” Schuette said. “Measles is highly contagious ... there are a lot of people who can’t be immunized – infants, women who are pregnant, those whose immune systems are compromised – so we want to be able to build up that community immunity. It’s super-important that people are aware of their immunization status.”

That means checking vaccination records for the pair of shots that cover mumps, rubella and measles and getting a measles booster shot, if needed, to ward off the virus.

“Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent further spread of measles to our community members – our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, local grocer or barista,” said Shasta County Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom in a prepared statement. “This is serious and we can all take steps to help protect others.”

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