“In this situation, for those exposed to a confirmed case of measles who could not provide evidence of two doses of measles immunizations or lab verified immunity to measles, a Health Officer Order for quarantine is being issued,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement.
Students who may have been exposed to the disease and who cannot show verification of immunization must remain in their residences, notify health officials if they develop measles symptoms, and avoid contact with others while the quarantine is in effect, the department said.
“Quarantine for measles can be up to 21 days from the date of last exposure, at which time the exposed person is no longer a risk for developing the disease and spreading measles to others,” the statement read.
Public health officials declared a measles outbreak in Los Angeles County after confirming at least five cases of the disease, including one at UCLA.
On Wednesday, 119 students and eight faculty members were under quarantine at UCLA, the school said in a statement. Seventy-one students and 127 staff members were quarantined at Cal State Los Angeles.
By Thursday afternoon, UCLA had released 43 students and two faculty members from quarantine after establishing proof of their immunity.
“I know there is concern about measles, particularly among the very small percentage of our community who have not been vaccinated,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement. “Please be assured that we have the resources we need for prevention and treatment, and that we are working very closely with local public health officials on the matter.”
Health officials also identified one of the libraries at Cal State Los Angeles as having been a potential site of exposure.
“The Department of Public Health has determined that there is no known current risk related to measles at the library at this time,” Cal State said in a statement to HuffPost.
As the Los Angeles Times noted, adults now in their early 20s were infants in 1998 when scientist Andrew Wakefield published his since-debunked study, based on just 12 patients, claiming vaccines were correlated with autism. Some members of this so-called “Wakefield generation” may not have been immunized against measles due to their parents’ fears of possible side-effects.
The U.S. is currently witnessing the largest outbreak of measles cases since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of this week, 695 measles cases have been reported across 22 states in 2019. California has confirmed at least 38 measles cases this year.
State legislators are currently considering a bill that would require health officials to vet all medical exemptions to school immunization requirements. California is one of just three states, along with West Virginia and Mississippi, that don’t allow families to opt children out of immunization for religious or philosophical reasons.
This story has been updated with the latest quarantine numbers from UCLA.