Measles Outbreak Link to Asia; Now 145 Cases And Growing In the US

There are now 119 measles cases confirmed in California, state officials said, as the number of cases in the California-centered outbreak rose to at least 145 patients across 12 counties, seven other states, Canada and Mexico.

The particular measles virus in the California cases shares the same genetic material as the type most commonly found in the Philippines, according to lab tests of the virus in 30 patients.

Scientists said the findings make it likely that the virus originated in the Philippines. But they still don’t know exactly how it got into the United States and ultimately to Disneyland.

Officials emphasized that the outbreak could have come from a traveler from any number of countries, given that Disneyland draws visitors from around the world. In fact, the type of measles found in the Philippines, known as B3, has been present in at least 14 other countries, including Brazil, Australia, England and Germany, as well as six other American states.

“The genotype is really the genetic fingerprint of the virus, and so it certainly tells us the number of cases that we have been seeing in California likely all relate to that individual that began at Disneyland,” said Dr. Matt Zahn, medical director of epidemiology for Orange County.

“The California Department of Public Health has not identified the source country for the measles outbreak,” said state epidemiologist Gil Chavez.

Of the 119 cases in California, at least 39 can be directly linked to visitors or employees at Disneyland during the holidays, 27 were family members or people who came in close contact with someone who had the measles, and at least eight caught the measles by being in a public area such as an emergency room where a confirmed case was known to be present, officials said.

Cases connected to the California-centered outbreak also have been confirmed in at least seven other states: Arizona (five), Utah (three), Washington (two), Michigan (one), Oregon (one), Colorado (one) and Nebraska (one) — as well as Canada (10) and Mexico (two).

Twelve counties in California have confirmed measles cases: Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Marin, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Ventura.

Orange County has 35 confirmed cases. Los Angeles County follows with 27 cases, San Diego County with 13 and Ventura with 12.

Fourteen of the California patients were infants younger than a year old. About 58% of the measles cases were adults 20 years or older.

“For those individuals for whom we have vaccination status, the majority are unvaccinated,” state health officials said.

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.