Measles cases on the rise, prompting warning from Sonoma County, other Bay Area health officials

As of March 28, there have been 97 confirmed cases across 18 states this year, according to the CDC, compared to 58 for all of 2023.|

North Bay and Bay Area health officials are urging residents to be on the lookout for symptoms of measles after recent local cases and a rise in incidences across the state and country.

As of March 28, there have been 97 confirmed cases across 18 states this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to 58 for all of 2023.

The last major U.S. outbreak happened in 2019 when cases, many spread through under-vaccinated communities, topped 1,200 in 31 states, the highest number since the disease was considered to be mostly eliminated in 2000. It spurred health officials, including in Sonoma County, to double down on calls for immunization.

The majority of cases so far in 2024 have been in children under five years old and unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people. The vast majority (90%) have been linked to international travel, likely because measles is circulating in a number of regions around the world.

Medical professionals say the best protection against the highly contagious, painful and potentially life-threatening illness is two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. They say vaccination is especially important for those with upcoming international travel plans. With its three major airports, they warn that the Bay Area could have a heightened exposure risk.

Roughly one-fifth of those who become infected with measles need hospitalization, and one to three out of every 1,000 children with it die from various complications.

Measles is passed through direct contact, primarily via breath, coughs and sneezes but infectious droplets can remain in indoor air for hours. The major symptoms to look out for include fever, cough, runny nose and pink eye followed by a rash within a few days.

Officials are advising anyone traveling internationally to review the CDC’s Global Measles Travel Health Notice for safety guidance and a list of areas with large measles outbreaks.

Look out for symptoms for three weeks after returning from any trips. Having vaccination status documentation on hand could help people who are exposed from being quarantined.

You can reach “In Your Corner” Columnist Marisa Endicott at 707-521-5470 or On X (formerly Twitter) @InYourCornerTPD and Facebook @InYourCornerTPD.

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