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Measles' next target in LA: Unvaccinated college students

Soumya Karlamangla, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

But amid pushback, UC officials did not begin enforcing the regulation until fall 2018, the beginning of the current school year. Therefore, most students at UCLA enrolled before the requirement took effect.

Nationwide, an estimated 626 people have come down with measles as of Friday, the second-highest number of cases reported since measles was declared eliminated in the country in 2000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts say the increase is due to fewer people being vaccinated in the U.S. and across the world; Americans are now more likely to encounter measles abroad, and when they return, the infection is more likely to spread here.

L.A. officials say the outbreak as well as the single case were both linked to international travel. The Northern California outbreak began when a man contracted measles in the Philippines.

This week, health officials also warned that someone infected with measles spent time in the library at Cal State L.A. for a few hours in April. University spokesman Robert Lopez said health officials had not said if the patient was a student.

The Cal State system requires that all students be vaccinated against measles and hepatitis B to begin classes, though it often allows a one-year grace period for students to catch up on their immunizations. Starting in fall 2020, CSU students will also be required to also be immunized against meningitis, whooping cough and chickenpox.

Though measles is most deadly for babies under a year old, children younger than 5 and adults older than 20 are more likely to suffer from other serious complications, such as pneumonia, brain swelling and ear infections that can lead to permanent hearing loss.


Public health officials encourage vaccination, estimated to be 97 percent effective in protecting against measles. The measles vaccine is believed to work for a lifetime.

"We will likely see additional measles cases in Los Angeles County, so ... the best way to protect yourself and to prevent the spread of measles is to get the measles immunization," said L.A. County health officer Dr. Muntu Davis in a statement.

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