UC Berkeley student diagnosed with measles Monday exposed community members

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City officials confirmed Monday that a UC Berkeley student diagnosed with measles had spent time on campus, in the community and on public transportation before being isolated.

According to a press release from the city, the community was exposed starting Aug. 24, when the student rode the AC Transit 25A bus about 3:30 p.m. and again at 5:30 p.m.

During the infectious period before any rash developed, the student spent time on the Berkeley campus and in the surrounding community. The student was placed in isolation Saturday.

Gil Chavez, a state epidemiologist and deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases in the California Department of Public Health, or CDPH, said the patient had recently traveled from a measles-endemic country.

The virus can remain in the air for up to two hours, the press release said, potentially exposing many Berkeley community members in multiple places throughout the city.

Since the student was put in isolation, the city’s Public Health Division has worked with the campus to contact exposed individuals who lived with the student or took classes with him. The city, along with the CDPH and other public health officials, is working on getting information to those who may have been exposed and to health care providers, the release said.

According to a statement released by campus officials Tuesday morning, the city and the campus have identified no other measles infections related to this case. University Health Services asked in a press release that individuals assess their measles risk level, review their vaccinations and stay home if they are sick.

“I encourage Berkeley community members to make sure they and their children have received the required two doses,” said Janet Berreman, the city’s health officer, in the release. “Obtaining records of your vaccination could prove critical in the event of a local outbreak.”

The infectious virus spreads quickly, and symptoms usually develop between seven and 21 days after exposure, but those who have received the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine, have little risk of contracting the disease.

John Swartzberg, a clinical professor emeritus at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, said the risk of an outbreak is likely very small because most students are immunized.

According to the CDPH’s 2014 data, 92.6 percent of kindergarten-age children in California had received the MMR vaccine.

Within the last two years, there have been threats of measles outbreaks at Berkeley libraries and at the Downtown Berkeley BART station. In December 2014, a measles outbreak in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park resulted in more than 40 people contracting the disease, according to the CDPH. The department declared the outbreak over in April.

According to Chavez, three measles cases have been reported in California since the outbreak ended, all of which originated from outside the state.

The outbreak triggered a political battle over personal-belief exemptions, which allowed parents or guardians to choose not to vaccinate their child if it was against their beliefs. A bill ending the personal exemptions, Senate Bill 277, was passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 30.

Update 9/1/15: This article has been updated to reflect additional information about the outbreak.


Contact Bo Kovitz and Austin Weinstein at [email protected].