UC Berkeley student has measles, high state numbers

UC Berkeley. Photo: Nina

A second UC Berkeley has been diagnosed with measles. Photo: Nina

A UC Berkeley student was confirmed to have measles on Friday, April 4.

The case, the second to affect a Cal student this year, comes in the midst of a high number of measles cases throughout the state. The California Department of Public Health reported Friday that there have been at least 51 cases this year so far, compared to four at the same time last year. The vast majority of cases involve those who traveled to, or were in contact with, known measles cases.

The student was isolated on April 3, soon after reporting a rash suspected of being measles-related.

The student landed on a domestic flight to Oakland on March 30, rode BART to Berkeley and attended classes April 1 through April 3. The university, and the City of Berkeley health department, have contacted students who might have been in class with the student on those days.

The student’s exposure to others was limited, according to a statement released by the City of Berkeley, and, because the diagnosis was made swiftly, unvaccinated people who were potentially exposed can still get the vaccine, which can prevent infection when given within 72 hours of exposure. People who have been vaccinated against measles, or have had measles before, are very unlikely to be affected by contact with a contagious person.

Berkeley said the current case is unrelated to another case in mid-February, which involved a Contra Costa County resident who commuted to UC Berkeley via BART.

Berkeley Public Health and University Health Services are encouraging people to check their vaccination records for the MMR vaccine and to contact a health provider if they have not received a full set of doses. Health officials urge anyone who shows symptoms of measles to stay home and contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Measles’ symptoms can begin one to three weeks after exposure and can include high fever, runny nose, coughing and watery, red eyes. A rash develops on the face and neck two to three days after the fever begins, and spreads down the body. The rash usually lasts five or six days. An infected person is contagious for several days before and after the rash appears.

“Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, health officer for the City of Berkeley. “It spreads through the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Fortunately, the measles vaccine is highly effective in preventing infection.”

City of Berkeley residents can call 510-981-5300 for additional information.  Information is also available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at the California Department of Public Health, or via this Fact Sheet.

With whooping cough epidemic, is Berkeley immunizing? (04.20.11)

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  • MarcusHart

    “I don’t quite understand why it seems to scare people to learn a couple UC students have the measles. ”

    From the World Health Organization:

    Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.

    “In 2012, there were 122 000 measles deaths globally – about 330 deaths every day or 14 deaths every hour.

    “Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2012 worldwide.”


    It’s scary because measles can be deadly.

  • EarlyMorningCoffee

    Oh, man, this comment section is going to be so Berkeley!

  • Local Pediatrician

    I think you may be confusing measles with chicken pox, which is indeed very itchy and typically mild (though can also occasionally have serious complications). Measles, on the other hand, almost always causes severe symptoms, including high fever, diarrhea, cough, and general misery. In parts of the world where people are not well-nourished, kids frequently die from complications (like diarrhea or pneumonia). We are extremely fortunate to live in a country where death from measles is rare, but unusual complications (eg. encephalitis –infection of the brain with the measles virus) can certainly still occur. This is by no means a trivial disease. Making it even harder to control is the fact that it is extremely contagious and there is no treatment other than supportive care. The best way to protect your child is to ensure he or she has been vaccinated. It’s also the best way to protect our community– a small number of people don’t make enough protective antibodies after being vaccinated and thus are still susceptible to getting ill with measles should they be exposed– the only way to protect these fellow community members is by ensuring sufficient numbers of the rest of us are immune so that the virus cannot be passed around (this is ‘herd immunity’). Also, this vaccine has been exhaustively studied due to a flap several years ago because of a report erroneously linking MMR to developmental concerns– there is NO connection and the guy who did that fraudulent so-called study has been barred from practicing medicine. Getting the MMR vaccine has been shown to be very safe and quite effective for most of us.

  • Re: “There are lots of toxic chemicals in there, goddess only knows why. It’s not just medicine.”

    From http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm:

    “Chemicals are added to vaccines to inactivate a virus or bacteria and stabilize the vaccine, helping to preserve the vaccine and prevent it from losing its potency over time.”

    Why ask deities for answers when you can just ask Google?

  • EBGuy

    Anyone know when the kids from the Waldorf school go on break? This could get ugly.

  • TN

    This discussion is really scary. Because of the successes of the vaccination movement in the past century, there are people here who under estimate the benefits of vaccination and greatly over estimate the risks. Many people haven’t seen the suffering of people actually catching these diseases.

    We’re pretty sure that we’ve globally eradicated smallpox. We’re close to eradicating polio. This has reduced human misery immensely. These are truly great accomplishments. I hope that these diseases don’t reappear here in the U.S. because if they do, we’re going to have a very hard time convincing enough people to get vaccinated before there is a catastrophe. The fear of vaccines is a big problem.

  • tiredofthiscrap

    No, it is medicine. And no, there are not “toxic chemicals” in there. There are preservatives that ensure that the vaccines are not dangerous. I am so incredibly tired of this. Vaccines are one of the single most effective ways that human beings have ever come up with to prevent suffering. It is criminally stupid for people to suggest that vaccinations are somehow more dangerous than the alternative. At some point, those of us that recognize this have to stand up and fight.

  • Rachel Anderson

    I’d vote this “up” multiple times if I could. Thanks for the sane, informative (facts!) post.

  • Doug F

    Why did you agonize over every routine vaccination? It doesn’t sound like you learned even high school biology. So why do you believe all these irrational Web rumors?

    I got the measles in ’58, at age 8. I had no lasting effects, except…my vision went from perfect to (eventually) so nearsighted I’m 5x worse than legally blind w/o my thick glasses.

    If you know to & can keep kids in a dark room with their eyes covered for a week straight (just try it), measles isn’t so bad in kids. It’s quite a bad disease in adults who didn’t have it as children & weren’t vaccinated.

  • Doug F

    Doesn’t UC require proof of all the usual vaccinations? It ought to.

    But of course we have irrational parents who believe every conspiracy theory they read on the Web to blame for the current epidemic in the state among school-age children.

  • When I was a kid in public school and when I went to university I was required to have proof of vaccinations prior to being allowed to attend. Why is this nation going backwards in Public Heath standards? This kind of nonsense seriously pisses me off since those that promote fear mongering about vaccines are creating a public health crisis, and frankly, it’s serious enough that legal action should be taken against those spreading anti-vaccine propaganda. Berkeley is supposed to be smarter than religious zealots in places like Pakistan or N. Nigeria that promote fear mongering over vaccines.

  • Jenny

    When there was another measles scare a few years ago, it was recommended that people got their MMR vaccinations checked. It is known to “wear off” in certain individuals. A coworker who got her immunity checked needed a new vaccination, despite having all of her routine vaccinations when she was younger.

  • guest

    Yes, West. What is odd about this movement is being driven by particularly well educated people in Liberal towns like Berkeley. I don’t think that is a coincidence. Anyone who has attended college in the past few decades must have noticed that great swaths of the Humanities has become untethered from the idea that there are actual facts, or that some people, because of many years of training, have more understanding of those facts than others. Doctors, for instance. That would be “privileging” some “ways of knowing”.

  • guest

    Oh, I guess that the veiled argument about race (AKA keeping black kids from Oakland out of our schools and pretending that that isn’t what we are arguing about) in Berkeley in our schools would get far more attention than the possibility that Alternative Medicine idiots might actually get kids killed. The entire alternative medicine industry is base on bullshit and snake oil, and it will eventually get kids killed. Actually, it already has.