The nationwide measles outbreak has reached Santa Barbara, the County Public Health Department confirmed on Friday. A man in his twenties who lives in the City of Santa Barbara has been confirmed contagious as of Saturday, May 25. His contagious period will last until June 2, and he has been at home in isolation since May 29, said Jackie Ruiz, a spokesperson for County Public Health.
The infection danger to Santa Barbarans is considered smaller than normal because the young man spent most of the contagious period traveling. But that also means Public Health investigators are checking his contacts in the counties of Riverside, Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Francisco to try to determine where he contracted measles and to see if anyone else has symptoms.
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control reported 971 cases of measles in the U.S. so far this year, the highest for the period since 1992, the New York Times reported. Only 372 cases were reported for the entire year of 2018. The CDC website states 26 states are affected, which is alarming as the disease was considered eliminated in 2000. California reports 47 cases associated with international travel; 10 are in Los Angeles County, as of May 29.
Ruiz said it can take eight to 12 days before measles symptoms manifest; they are usually fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, or conjunctivitis. A few days after that is when the distinguishing rash appears, generally in the facial area first and then the body.
For prevention, Ruiz advised knowing your vaccination history. If you aren’t sure, check with your doctor, she said. The Health Officer for Public Health, Dr. Henning Ansorg, repeated her advice, saying, “We highly encourage every person to know their measles vaccination status by checking in with their health care providers. Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads easily by air and through direct contact with someone who is infected. The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is safe and highly effective in protecting individuals from contracting measles.”