Bay Area health officials warn about uptick in measles cases nationwide

Bay Area health officials are urging residents to make sure that they're up-to-date on their measles vaccinations amid an uptick in the number of cases nationwide. The alert comes as millions of Americans plan to take to the skies this spring. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 64 cases of measles in the United States so far this year. 

"64 in this year, is already more cases than we had in all of 2023, so it’s definitely something to worry about, to think about, and to be aware that we are getting more measles than we are used to," said UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Monica Gandhi.

The vast majority of the cases have occurred in Illinois and Florida.

"We have not had an outbreak in the Bay Area," added Dr. Gandhi.

Health officials are particularly eyeing international travel from the Bay Area's three major airports to regions currently experiencing measles outbreaks.

"We’re really encouraging people to ensure that they were properly vaccinated, and to really make sure that they are up-to-date," said Dr. Lael Duncan, Marin County deputy health officer.

"That’s really what we want people to keep in mind during this spring break season," added Dr. Kismet Baldwin-Santana, San Mateo County health officer.

Health experts are stressing that the measles vaccine is safe.

"I would absolutely urge parents to get this for their children," said Dr. Gandhi. "We’ve had the measles vaccine since the 1960s. This is a safe vaccine."

Symptoms of the measles include a cough, fever, and runny nose followed by the onset of a rash.  

Without the vaccine, doctors say that contracting measles can be dangerous, and potentially life-threatening.

"It can be a cause of hospitalization, serious illness, and even death in certain populations," said Dr. Duncan. "Particularly very young children, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems." 

The CDC is currently recommending the measles vaccine for children 12 to 15 months. Infants 6 to 12 months old can be vaccinated early if they’re traveling internationally. Teens and adults who’ve never gotten the vaccine can get it right away.