Quarantine Order Issued for Los Angeles Colleges
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) announced in a press release a series of actions to limit the spread of measles based on its assessment of an identified measles cases.
The goals of this announcement are to build awareness among students, faculty, and staff at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and California State University Los Angeles (Cal State LA) about the risks of measles after a potential exposure to the measles virus.
For those exposed to a confirmed case of measles who could not provide evidence of 2 doses of measles immunizations or lab verified immunity to measles, a ‘Health Officer Order’ for quarantine was issued on April 25, 2019.
Generally, a Health Officer Order mandates the exposed person to remain at their residence, to notify Public Health if they develop symptoms of measles, and to avoid contact with others until the end of their quarantine period or until they provide evidence of immunity.
Both universities said they are assisting with the implementation of quarantine orders and determining how best to support students who must be quarantined and who live on campus.
The scale of this quarantine order could be substantial since UCLA has over 45,000 students enrolled, and Cal State LA has approximately 27,000 students.
Quarantine for measles can be up to 21 days from the date of last exposure, at which time the exposed person is no longer a risk for developing the disease and spreading measles to others.
This is an important announcement since the state of California has already reported 38 measles cases during 2019.
Measles is highly contagious and can stay in the air for up to 2 hours after a sick person coughs or sneezes. Measles can also stay on surfaces for many hours.
About 90 percent of people who are exposed and not immune to measles become ill 7-21 days after exposure.
Schools are considered high-risk settings for exposure due to frequent and prolonged contact.
In accordance with February 1, 2016, California Department of Public Health Immunization and Screening recommendations for college students, UCLA and CSULA require 2 doses of Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR) immunization OR positive titer (laboratory evidence of immunity to disease) for incoming students.
Two doses of measles immunization are about 97 percent effective.
Thus, getting immunized is the best way to prevent getting and spreading measles.
And, the risk of the measles virus to pregnant women is substantial. Measles may cause a pregnant woman to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.
Recently, the NYC Health Department has specifically alerted obstetricians/gynecologists and other healthcare providers of the ongoing measles outbreak and recommended that pregnant women be screened for measles immunity.
California Public Health will continue to communicate with schools, health care providers, health plans, local governments, and elected officials to provide updates on the measles outbreak and actions they can take to help prevent the spread of measles and support the countywide response.
If a person doesn’t know their immune status, Public Health recommends they talk with their health care provider. For more information about measles click here.
MMR vaccinations are offered by most pharmacies in the LA area.