Santa Barbara health officials are putting residents on alert after the California Public Health Laboratory reported that a European tourist infected with measles spent time in town.
He visited three locations during his 12-hour stay on March 31 and April 1: Holiday Lodge Motel at 2825 State Street, Shintori Sushi at 3001 State Street the evening of March 31, and Our Daily Bread at 831 Santa Barbara Street the morning of April 1. During that time, officials noted, the 29-year-old man may have exposed people around him to the highly contagious viral disease. The onset of his illness began April 2, and he was infectious from March 29 – April 6.
“A small number of the Santa Barbara public may have been exposed in the locations that the tourist visited, but since he did not spend a substantial time at any of these and he was not yet ill, the risk of transmission is probably low,” reads a statement issued by the county’s Public Health Department. “The period during which any susceptible person in Santa Barbara would become ill is April 8 – April 29.”
Symptoms of a measles infection include a rash that can be pink or take the form of red blotches, fever, cough, runny nose, white spots in the mouth, and red, swollen, watery eyes. “It is usually a moderate to serious illness with intense discomfort, unlike a common cold,” the statement notes. If residents think they may be infected and are exhibiting any of the symptoms described above, the Public Health Department is asking that they contact their medical provider immediately and not go to a doctor’s office or emergency room in order to prevent possible transmission.
Though measles were declared eliminated from the United States in 2000 – thanks to widespread vaccinations – the disease has been imported hundreds of times from foreign countries since then. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 692 reported cases throughout the country from 2001-2010, the vast majority of which were import-associated. Twenty-nine cases were reported in January and February of this year.