The measles outbreak believed to have originated in Disneyland has spread from California to Utah, Washington, Colorado and Mexico, according to news reports.
Authorities say an unknown person incubating a measles infection likely exposed several people in Disneyland, who then exposed others after leaving the park.
Health authorities believe the outbreak was triggered by a measles-stricken visitor to one of the Disney parks who brought the virus from abroad last month, according to the Associated Press. As one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations, Disney was a prime spot for the virus to spread, with large numbers of babies too young to be vaccinated and lots of visitors from countries that do not require measles shots.
This latest outbreak reignites a debate over vaccination. A vaccine for the measles has been available in the U.S. since 1963 and is more than 99 percent effective in preventing the disease. Much of this outbreak is being placed on the anti-vaccine movement, popularized by Jenny McCarthy. Most medical experts and organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say the measles vaccine is safe and effective and is the best defense against the disease.
The infected ranged from 7 months to 70 years old, including five Disneyland workers.
In an effort to control this latest outbreak, those who are not vaccinated were warned this week to stay away from Disney theme parks. Disney employees who have no proof of immunization and may have come into contact with sick colleagues were placed on paid leave until they are given the medical all-clear, AP reported.
Measles is highly contagious and potentially deadly respiratory virus that has a 21-day incubation period.
More than 60 confirmed cases are associated with the outbreak since it began in December. The outbreak made 2014 the year with the most measles cases since the disease was eliminated in the country in 2000.