A teenager infected with the highly contagious measles virus recently visited Disneyland and other popular tourist attractions in Southern California, putting the public at risk of contracting the virus, health officials said.
The girl was visiting from New Zealand from August 11 to August 15, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. The department, in an alert on Friday, said it is attempting to locate anyone who may have been exposed to the virus or anyone showing symptoms.
“For those who are not protected, measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that initially causes fever, cough, red, watery eyes and, finally, a rash,” Los Angeles County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said in a release. “Measles is spread by air and by direct contact even before you know have it.”
Locations visited by the teen include the Los Angeles International Airport, the Desert Palms Hotel, Disney California Adventure Park, Universal Studios, the TCL Chinese Theatre, Madame Tussauds and the Santa Monica Pier and Beach.
Measles is one of the most contagious viruses in the world. About 90% of people who have not been immunized against it will become ill within seven to 21 days after exposure. The virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed, according to health officials.
The teen’s visit comes amid the largest measles outbreak in the country in 27 years. As of August 15, there have been 1,203 individual cases confirmed in 30 states. Of those individuals, 124 were hospitalized and 64 others reported complications related to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 but a rise in unvaccinated communities, as well as travelers contracting the measles abroad and bringing it to the U.S., has led to a resurgence in outbreaks, primarily in New York, according to the CDC.
“Measles is more likely to spread and cause outbreaks in U.S. communities where groups of people are unvaccinated,” the CDC’s website states.