This story was updated on April 26 to include the most recent quarantine numbers.
Over 600 people have been quarantined after potentially being exposed to the measles virus at California State University, Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.
Los Angeles county health officials have told 625 students and staff members who cannot prove they have been immunized against measles to stay home after identifying the school’s main library as one of five areas around Los Angeles County where people may have come in contact with the virus.
The quarantined individuals — all library employees — may have to remain at home until May 2 unless they can show documentation or take a lab test proving their immunity. The move is a preventative measure aimed at curbing the spread of the disease, which has infected 38 people in California this year, according to state officials.
People who visited CSULA’s main library from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 11 are at risk of developing the highly infectious disease, which has now been confirmed among five county residents, according to the Department of Public Health. One of those residents was a CSULA student, the university confirmed to the Times.
The university said in a statement that the library does not pose a current risk of measles exposure, The Eastsider reported.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officially declared a measles outbreak on Monday after reporting the first case of measles transmission within the county this year, according to a DPH release.
All five cases are linked to international travel, DPH stated. Four previous cases of measles were reported this year in non-residents traveling through the county who did not transmit the disease to residents, DPH said.
People infected with the measles virus can spread the disease to others before showing any symptoms, which include fever, coughing, a runny nose, red eyes and a skin rash.
“Public Health urges residents who have not been fully immunized against measles with two doses of the measles immunization to contact their healthcare provider to get fully immunized in order to better protect their individual health and to prevent the spread of measles to others,” DPH said in the release. DPH reported that the majority of confirmed cases involved a person who was unvaccinated.
Other potential areas of exposure include the international terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport, UCLA, El Pollo Loco Restaurant in La Cañada Flintridge and El Sauz Tacos in Glendale.
California is one of 22 states where measles cases have been reported this year so far, totaling 626 confirmed cases across the country as of April 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the Times, measles cases nationwide are approaching a 20-year high as some unvaccinated young adults enter college. In 1998, a since-discredited paper was published suggesting erroneously that vaccinations cause autism, and some California parents took advantage of the state’s then-lax vaccination law to claim exemptions to the vaccine mandate. Their children are now college age.
34 people remain quarantined at UCLA, the Times reported, after the school confirmed that one of the five infected people is a UCLA student.
CSULA requires students to be vaccinated against measles and hepatitis B before starting classes, but it often grants a one-year grace period, according to the university’s website.
Photo by Pablo De La Hoya.