Breaking NewsPerspective

Disneyland measles outbreak spreads; AAP urges vaccination

The California Department of Public Health has confirmed 79 cases of measles among California residents, and of these, 52 are linked to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park.

In addition to California, there have been five measles cases in Arizona, three cases in Utah, two cases in Washington and one case in Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon and Mexico that have been epidemiologically linked to Disney, according to the California Department of Public Health.

One case in Mexico and Michigan have been epidemiologically linked to California as of Jan. 28.

The AAP issued a statement urging parents, schools and communities to vaccinate infants, children and adults in an effort to prevent further and future measles outbreaks.

“Vaccines are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children from very real diseases that exist in our world,” AAP Executive Director and CEO Errol R. Alden, MD, FAAP, said in a press release. “The AAP urges parents to have their children immunized against measles, as well as other infectious diseases, and to talk with their child’s pediatrician if they have questions about any of their child’s recommended vaccines.”

Among the confirmed cases in California — where several secondary cases have been reported — 52 are associated with initial exposure at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in December. Five of the cases are Disney employees.

The California patients are aged 7 months to 70 years. Vaccination information was available for 34 of these cases, and of them, 28 were not vaccinated against measles.

The California Department of Public Health has confirmed 79 cases of measles among California residents, and of these, 52 are linked to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park.

In addition to California, there have been five measles cases in Arizona, three cases in Utah, two cases in Washington and one case in Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon and Mexico that have been epidemiologically linked to Disney, according to the California Department of Public Health.

One case in Mexico and Michigan have been epidemiologically linked to California as of Jan. 28.

The AAP issued a statement urging parents, schools and communities to vaccinate infants, children and adults in an effort to prevent further and future measles outbreaks.

“Vaccines are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children from very real diseases that exist in our world,” AAP Executive Director and CEO Errol R. Alden, MD, FAAP, said in a press release. “The AAP urges parents to have their children immunized against measles, as well as other infectious diseases, and to talk with their child’s pediatrician if they have questions about any of their child’s recommended vaccines.”

Among the confirmed cases in California — where several secondary cases have been reported — 52 are associated with initial exposure at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in December. Five of the cases are Disney employees.

The California patients are aged 7 months to 70 years. Vaccination information was available for 34 of these cases, and of them, 28 were not vaccinated against measles.

    Perspective
    Paul A. Offit

    Paul A. Offit

    The measles outbreak in Disneyland is probably the single best example of what can happen when parents choose not to vaccinate their children.

    Of interest, the outbreak was predicted by an investigative journalist named Gary Baum who wrote for (of all places) The Hollywood Reporter. Baum found that elementary schools in wealthy, upper middle class southern California suburbs like Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, and Beverly Hills, had woefully low immunization rates.

    Unlike outbreaks of pertussis, where it can reasonably be argued are due in large part by a less effective vaccine, outbreaks of measles can be blamed entirely on the notion by some parents that vaccines are doing more harm than good. For clinicians and educators, this is not an “I-told-you-so” moment; it is a “we-failed” moment. And, as always, it is the children who suffer our ignorance.

    • Paul A. Offit, MD
    • Infectious Diseases in Children Editorial Board member

    Disclosures: Offit reports no relevant financial disclosures.