By Sonalei Amador
There is an ongoing epidemic of measles in the Coachella Valley. In total, there are now five confirmed cases of measles in Riverside County. All cases have been linked to Disneyland, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Students from Palm Desert High School were in danger of contracting the potentially fatal disease, due to a student who was showing symptoms for it. 66 students were sent home due to their lack of immunization for the disease. “Measles is highly contagious and very easily transmitted,” said Barbara Cole, spokeswoman for the Riverside County Department of Public Health.
Measles is a viral infection that is easily spread by coughing, sneezing, and coming into close contact with those who are infected. Symptoms develop 10-12 days after exposure to someone with the disease. Symptoms include small, white spots inside the mouth, a cough, runny nose, and red eyes. A spot-like rash covering the entire body usually develops about three days later after the onset of initial symptoms. In extreme cases, it can cause blindness, inflammation of the brain, and pneumonia.
Those who have not been immunized for measles are at high risk for contracting it, and should be immunized as soon as possible, in order to be safe from catching the infection and putting others at risk. “Just being aware and people contacting their health provider if they have symptoms is the message we’d like the public to know,” Cole said.
The Riverside County Department of Public Health offers programs that assist in the prevention and treatment of diseases such as measles. For more information, visit http://www.rivco-diseasecontrol.org.