A UC Berkeley student who has been diagnosed with measles possibly exposed an unknown number of Bay Area residents to the disease, city officials announced Friday.
The unidentified student, who lives in Berkeley, rode BART from Oakland to Berkeley after returning from an out-of-state flight March 30, according to a statement from the city of Berkeley. The student also attended class from April 1 to 3 and was quarantined after reporting a possibly measles-related rash April 3.
The Berkeley Public Health Division and University Health Services have begun notifying those who may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease. People who may have attended class with the student are being contacted through email.
According to the city, this case is unrelated to the other case of measles reported in February, in which a UC Berkeley student who lived in Contra Costa County caught the disease and subsequently infected two family members.
Health officials are encouraging people to watch out for the symptoms of measles, though those who have received an inoculation against measles or have previously contracted the virus are unlikely to catch it, even if exposed.
“Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease,” said Janet Berreman, health officer for the city of Berkeley, in the statement. “It spreads through the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Fortunately, the measles vaccine is highly effective in preventing infection.”
Often confused with the symptoms of a cold, the symptoms of measles include high fever, runny nose, coughing and watery, red eyes. Symptoms can begin one to three weeks after exposure, and a rash develops on the face and neck two or three days after the fever begins and spreads down the body, lasting five or six days.
An infected person is contagious for several days before and after the rash appears, and the measles virus can stay in the air for up to two hours.
The fast discovery of this case of measles means those who are not inoculated and were potentially exposed to the virus can still receive the measles vaccine and prevent infection, if vaccinated within 72 hours of exposure, according to the statement. The city and campus are asking that people who have not yet been immunized do so as soon as possible.
According to the California Department of Public Health, there have been at least 51 cases of measles in California this year as of Friday, with two in Alameda County — a substantial increase from the four cases reported in California by the end of April last year.