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Public Health Responds to State Measles Outbreak

The County spent time preparing for a measles outbreak in 2015 after the California Department of Public Health declared a measles outbreak in the state of California.

The outbreak resulted in 131 measles cases in 12 California counties plus another 25 cases in six other states, Mexico and Canada. Although there were no measles cases reported in San Luis Obispo County, an outbreak response was initiated by the local medical community, schools, child care providers, and the County Public Health Department.

Our response activities included the following:

  • Provided consultation for health care providers with suspect cases
  • Conducted interviews and investigations of potential contacts
  • Tested 29 specimens for measles virus using real-time PCR testing method
  • Advised potentially infectious individuals on isolation and infection control precautions
  • Conducted public outreach via TV and radio news interviews, newspaper editorial, school and child care advisory, and social media
  • Received 100 doses of measles vaccine to administer to high-risk individuals
  • Participated in weekly conference calls with CDPH
  • Issued Health Advisories to local health providers, schools, and child care facilities
  • Assessed current risk and immunity status of employees with potential for exposure to or transmission of measles to vulnerable clients
  • Handled numerous calls from concerned individuals about measles vaccination

The measles outbreak illustrates that we live in a global community, and as long as the disease is common in other countries, we must continue to protect ourselves in all communities through high immunization rates. Public health departments cannot fight this battle alone; like most public health issues, we need your help. Join the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles, and get vaccinated—to protect yourself, your family, and your community.

The outbreak was declared over because there had been no new measles cases related to the original Disneyland outbreak for two 21-day incubation periods, or 42 days.

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