Bay Area Health Officials Warn Public About Possible Exposure to Measles

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Some people in the San Francisco Bay Area were potentially exposed to measles last week when a UC Berkeley student identified with measles attended class and commuted to school on BART from home in Contra Costa County.

Public health officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the student was not vaccinated was likely infected with measles during a recent trip abroad. Before being diagnosed, the student spent time in the Berkeley community including attending classes and using BART on several days, according to Kate Fowlie, a spokeswoman with the Costa County Health Department.

No further information about the student has been released.

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People who are vaccinated or have had measles before are unlikely to catch measles, even if they had contact with a contagious person. But those who were not previously vaccinated are very likely to catch measles if exposed to the virus, Fowlie said.

Health officials urge anyone who shows symptoms of measles to contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Because BART cars circulate throughout the Bay Area, anyone who used the transit system from Tuesday, Feb. 4 to Friday, Feb. 7 during the morning commute hours and late evening was potentially exposed to measles.

In a statement, Dr. Janet Berreman, health officer for the City of Berkeley said that measles is a highly contagious disease. The measles virus can stay in the air for up to two hours.

“It spreads through the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Fortunately, the measles vaccine is highly effective in preventing infection,” Berreman said.

Contra Costa Health Services, the California Department of Public Health, UC Berkeley and City of Berkeley Public Health are investigating the student’s movements and notifying people who were in close contact with the student. So far, the agencies have identified no other measles infections related to this case.

Contra Costa County residents can also call 925-313-6740 or 211. City of Berkeley residents can call 510-981-5300. Additional also information is available at

Measles virus 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 an “air and surface” attacker, spread mostly by coughs and sneezes.
It’s a highly contagious and pretty tough enemy.

About 30% of measles cases develop one or more complications, including:

* Pneumonia, which is the complication that is most often the cause of death in young children.
* Ear infections occur in about 1 in 10 measles cases and permanent loss of hearing can result.
* Diarrhea is reported in about 8% of cases.

These complications are more common among children under 5 years of age and adults over 20 years old.

Even in previously healthy children, measles can be a serious illness requiring hospitalization. As many as 1 out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, and about 1 child in every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis. (This is an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions, and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded.) For every 1,000 children who get measles, 1 or 2 will die from it. Measles also can make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage, give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.

In developing countries, where malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency are common, measles has been known to kill as many as one out of four people. It is the leading cause of blindness among African children. It is estimated that in 2008 there were 164,000 measles deaths worldwide.


(Copyright 2014, KRON 4, All rights reserved.)

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