There are now five confirmed cases of measles in Santa Clara County and another one in Alameda County, health officials said.
All the cases involve patients who haven't been shot with the proper vaccines, according to George Han of the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health, who refused to give out personal information of the patients because of doctor-patient confidentiality protections.
He did say, however, that the public threat is very low, suggesting the outbreak will not further worsen. Still, he mentions that the six cases being closely linked is odd, especially since America has mostly gotten rid of the virus over the years.
"It's pretty uncommon because measles has been eliminated in this country for some time now due to our high vaccination rates," he said.
Santa Clara County Measles Outbreak
One of the patients got the disease while traveling in Europe, as The Mercury News reports. Health officials started identifying cases in March. The current tally is as of April 4.
They are also encouraging people to get vaccinated for the disease, noting that the practice is a routine childhood vaccination for school entry. MMR vaccine is the common type of vaccine against measles, and also mumps and rubella.
What Is Measles?
Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads through coughing or sneezing. It can also linger for hours and infect people that come into contact with contaminated surfaces.
"[M]easles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected."
Typical symptoms include fever, runny nose, red eyes, and cough. A rash that spreads across the body usually follows.
According to the NHS, anyone is susceptible to get measles if they haven't been vaccinated or haven't contracted the disease before, although it's far more common among children. Having measles is an unpleasant experience, but it's not the end of the world. Infections and symptoms usually clear up in about seven to 10 days without causing any more problems. People who have had measles once before are not likely to get it again, as the body usually builds up an immunity against the virus after contracting it.