Measles Quarantine Hits L.A. Universities After Confirmed Cases on Campus

Hundreds of students and staff members at UCLA and Cal State LA are told to stay home for 21 days.

Photo: Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

April 26, 2019

Amid a nationwide measles outbreak, two California colleges are telling hundreds of students and employees to stay home for fear they’ve been exposed and can spread the highly contagious virus.

The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and California State University Los Angeles (Cal State LA) implemented a quarantine Thursday after an infected person was confirmed to have been on each school's campus earlier in April. At UCLA, a student with measles attended class for three days, and someone infected went to a library at Cal State LA, according to CBS News.

“In this situation, for those exposed to a confirmed case of measles who could not provide evidence of two doses of measles immunizations or lab verified immunity to measles, a Health Officer Order for quarantine is being issued,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which is working closely with the two schools, said in a statement.

These people are being asked to stay home, contact Public Health if they develop symptoms, and avoid contact with others for 21 days after their exposure. After that period, they will no longer be at risk for contracting or spreading measles. The quarantine will be lifted immediately for anyone who shows documentation proving they’d been vaccinated or immune.

The statement also explained, “Schools are considered high-risk settings for exposure due to potentially frequent and prolonged contact.”

The quarantine comes after measles cases hit a record high in the United States this year, decades after it was considered eliminated in the nation in 2000. As of April 24, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 695 confirmed cases in 22 states, due to unvaccinated travelers contracting the disease abroad and then returning home.

Measles, which can spread though coughing and sneezing, is so contagious that about 90 percent of non-immune individuals will become infected after close contact with someone who has it. Measles can also live in the air for up to two hours. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and a red rash that spreads throughout the body. Experts stress the importance of children getting two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is 97 percent effective against measles.

“This current outbreak is deeply troubling and I call upon all healthcare providers to assure patients about the efficacy and safety of the measles vaccine,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement. “And, I encourage all Americans to adhere to CDC vaccine guidelines in order to protect themselves, their families, and their communities from measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. We must work together as a Nation to eliminate this disease once and for all.”

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