aniela Chavarriaga holds her daughter, Emma Chavarriaga, as pediatrician Jose Rosa-Olivares, M.D. administers a measles vaccination during a visit to the Miami Children's Hospital on June 02, 2014 in Miami, Florida.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Measles Cases Rise Steeply In California

Tim Ryan
April 25, 2019 - 11:52 am

The number of reported measles cases rose sharply over the past week in California, according to new figures from the state Department of Public Health. 

There have been 38 cases of the once rare disease. That's up from 23 patients a week ago. At this time in 2018, there were 11 instances of measles. 

The patients have ranged in age from five months to 55 years old, said Dr. Karen Smith, the state health director. The disease can be prevented by a vaccination that also inoculates against mumps and rubella. 

"The great majority — over 76 percent — were either not vaccinated or were under-vaccinated," Smith said on a conference call with reporters. 

Related: Measles Outbreak Concerns Public Health Officials

There have been 10 cases throughout the Bay Area with patients in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. 

The California cases have largely been connected to international travel. Some patients have contracted it by traveling to Asia or been exposed to the illness from someone who returned with it from overseas travel, according to officials. 

No one has died in the latest outbreak, but Smith warned people against underestimating the hazards of measles. 

"Contrary to what some people think, measles is not a benign childhood disease," said Smith. "It can have very serious consequences."

New York state has seen hundreds of cases, leading to some strict emergency regulations by public officials, including some mandatory vaccinations. An outbreak in Ukraine has spread to more than 40,000. 

The United States had declared that measles was eliminated in 2000.