Cases of the highly contagious measles virus are on the rise across Southern California.
County health officials told News Channel 3 four people have now been infected with measles in Riverside County. The newest cases: two adults, both of whom are connected to the Disneyland theme park outbreak.
But health officials say the virus has now spread beyond those who visited Disneyland in mid-December and has infected more than 50 people statewide.
“It’s really scary that it would contract like that and spread so quickly,” said Michelle Ochoa, who is the mom of a 6-year-old boy.
Measles is an airborne virus spread through coughing and sneezing, but it’s so contagious just entering a room where someone with measles has been could lead to exposure.
Symptoms show up a week to 14 days after someone is infected.
“Fever and they can have a cough, runny nose and a few days later a rash,” said Barbara Cole, Director for Disease Control for the County of Riverside Department of Public Health. “But people can be contagious for four days before the rash starts.”
Health officials say the best way to prevent infection, is the vaccine MMR – Measles, Mumps and Rubella, which is recommended in two doses.
You have 72 hours after exposure to be vaccinated and the Department of Health says one reason measles may be spreading is because it’s easy to initially mistake the virus for the flu or even a common cold.
“We encourage parents not to send kids to school sick with cough and fever,” Cole said.
Officials at Huntington Beach High School in Orange County sent home 24 unvaccinated students Tuesday who may have been exposed to measles by another student.
In response to the cases in Riverside County, Palm Springs Unified School District said it sent all principals information on signs and symptoms.
Coachella Valley Unified School District says it’s taking precautions to keep students safe, including reviewing information on preventing infection and sending any student home who feels sick.
Neither district has sent letters home to parents about the virus.
“The school at the bare minimum should send a newsletter home about the main first symptoms of measles,” said Kristin Robb of Palm Desert.