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KPCC: Uptick in Measles

A Martinez, host of Take Two on 89.3 FM KPCC radio, a National Public Radio affiliate, recently interviewed Jonathan Grein, MD, director of Hospital Epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai, about the measles outbreak hitting California. Health officials are calling it the worst measles outbreak in more than two decades.

The best protection from the disease: vaccination, Grein said. 

“Measles is a very infectious disease that is extremely contagious and can be spread through the air,” Grein said. “Because of this, it’s very important that from a population perspective, we maintain a very high rate of vaccination.”

However, Grein suggests that small communities who believe vaccinations are harmful -- in spite of scientific evidence that proves vaccinations are safe -- may be contributing the spike.

“Unfortunately, if you have small communities where vaccination rates dip – even below 90 or 95 percent – then we are at risk for having these infectious disease come back,” Grein told A Martinez. 

Grein also discussed how international travel may also be a contributing factor to the rise in cases nationally and locally.

“Although we have been very successful at controlling measles within the United States, it’s important to remember that measles is much more common outside of the United States,” said Grein. “Measles outbreaks in parts of Asia, Africa and Europe have been well-described. So international travel is a well-known risk for measles, and it’s very important if you’re thinking about international travel to make sure that you’re immune to diseases such as measles.”

As described in the interview, two of the five most recent cases in Los Angeles county were on college campuses, meaning that the disease impacts adults as well as children. 

“College students and those in schools in general are a well-recognized risk for diseases like measles being spread, and it’s largely because they live in close-knit communities, and any contagious infection can spread very quickly through a community like that,” Grein said. “So college students and people that live in a confined settings or close quarters are always at risk for these types of infections spreading quickly.”

Grein stressed to Take Two listeners that the measles vaccine is very safe and well-studied.

“The message is, if you are not immune to measles, or if you have questions, this is really now the opportunity to talk to your physician and get vaccinated.”

Click here to listen to the complete interview on the KPCC website. 

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Measles: What You Need to Know