Negative Measles Test for Sacramento Area Resident

Published on January 30, 2015

Public health officials announced today that lab tests have confirmed a Sacramento County man who was treated recently at an urgent-care center and hospital in Placer County did not have the measles.

On Wednesday, Sacramento County health officials reported that tests also came back negative in a second suspected measles case involving a child in Elk Grove.

At this time, there has not been a confirmed case of measles in either Sacramento or Placer counties, however, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported this week that 79 measles cases were confirmed in California from January 1 to 28. Of the confirmed cases, 52 have been linked to an initial exposure in December at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim.

"We have been fortunate so far that none of the results have been positive," said Dr. Robert Oldham, Placer County's public health officer. "But it is quite possible that we will see a positive case in the not too distant future and we have to prepare for that possibility."

Sacramento and Placer counties announced the latest test results jointly today, emphasizing that they are on high alert for suspected measles cases and need the public's help in halting the spread of the disease.

"This is a highly contagious disease that knows no political boundaries," said Oldham. "We live in an area where people live in Placer County but work in Sacramento County, or live in Sacramento but shop and dine or work in Placer County. So, this is a regional issue that we are working together closely on to educate the public about the risks and the best prevention, which is vaccination."

Dr. Oldham and Dr. Olivia Kasirye, Sacramento County's public health officer, urge the public to get vaccinated if they have not done so already.

"One dose of the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine, or MMR for short, provides up to 95% protection," said Kasirye. "Most children routinely get a first dose of the vaccine at 12 months of age or later. The second dose is usually administered when children start kindergarten, but can be given as soon as a month after the first dose, and that boosts resistance to nearly 100%."

Dr. Oldham emphasized that Placer County has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, noting that many residents are concerned about whether vaccines are safe.

"Interestingly, the vaccination rates often track against income levels," Oldham said. "The lack of vaccinations is not typically due to a lack of access to medical care - in fact, the higher income families are the ones opting not to vaccinate." A significant percentage of parents still question if there is a link between vaccinations and autism even though that claim has been debunked and all scientific evidence shows there is no link, he said.

Measles is a highly infectious, airborne disease that typically begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, and, within a few days, a red rash appears, usually first on the face and then spreading downward to the rest of the body.

The disease can be fatal or lead to serious neurological disabilities in some cases.

Residents with symptoms who believe they may have been exposed to the measles should contact their health care providers. Except in emergencies, it is best to contact health care providers by phone initially so other patients are not potentially exposed to the measles.

Individuals can be infectious for a few days prior to developing symptoms and may feel well enough to be out and about, potentially exposing others.

The CDPH reported that the measles was eliminated in the United States more than a decade ago. However, large outbreaks have occurred in many countries, particularly in Western Europe, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines in recent years. Travelers to areas where measles circulates can bring the disease back to the U.S.

Measles vaccines have been available in the United States since 1963, and two doses have been recommended since 1989. Residents who are unsure whether they have been vaccinated should check with their doctors to either have tests conducted to check for measles immunity or to receive the MMR vaccine.

There is a Measles Fact Sheet (PDF)  available on the Placer County website as well as a video in which Dr. Oldham answers frequently asked questions, about the measles: Measles Q&A.

More information about the measles can also be found on the CDPH website