Measles in Santa Barbara a False Alarm

The possible case of measles in Santa Barbara County that public health officials announced Wednesday was determined to be a different disease, officials said Thursday. A lot of viruses are going around that can mimic measles, officials added. “We will continue to take seriously any request for measles testing from our community providers, although at this point the handful of children being tested have a very low likelihood of being positive,” public health spokesperson Susan Klein-Rothschild said in a statement.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 68 people in 11 states were reported to have measles from January 1-23. Most of those cases were part of last month’s large Disneyland outbreak. In 2014, there were 644 cases of measles reported nationwide, which is about three times the number of cases in the several years prior. (Many of those cases were associated with cases brought in from the Philippines, which experienced a large measles outbreak last year, according to the CDC.)

At Wednesday’s press conference, health officials urged people to vaccinate their children, blaming the recent outbreak of diseases — including measles and whooping cough — on the drop in vaccination rates in recent years. Countywide, the vaccination rate crept up from 2.9 percent in the 2011-2012 school year to 4.7 percent in 2013-2014. Pockets of the community have higher percentages of people who opt out of vaccinations for personal belief reasons. In the Santa Barbara Unified School District, about 11 cases of whooping cough have been reported so far this school year, according to school district spokesperson Barbara Keyani.

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