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What you need to know about the measles outbreak

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Posted at 10:52 AM, Jan 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-21 17:40:59-05

Health officials said this week that an outbreak of measles tied to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure includes several employees, and they live in various counties.

The outbreak has affected several dozen people from five U.S. states and Mexico, according to the Associated Press.  

Measles is so contagious a person may contract it simply by being in a room where someone with the virus once was. It remains active on a surface for up to two hours.

It is generally passed along through sneezing and coughing and personal contact with infected bodily fluids.

Reports indicate that at least three of five infected workers (called “cast members”) have recovered and are back at work. All the park employees have been given immunity tests and offered vaccinations.

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the U.S. saw a record 644 cases of measles in 27 states.

“The majority of the people who got measles are unvaccinated,” the CDC’s website states.

The U.S. declared in 2000 the measles had been eliminated from the country, and that was the result of the highly effective vaccination program.

The measles is common in places such as Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa, according to the CDC. Typically it enters the U.S. via travelers who bring it, and it spreads among those who are unvaccinated.

Also in 2014, the Philippines experienced a large outbreak.

What you need to know:
* Measles virus is highly contagious
* It is a major cause of death and disability among children worldwide, mostly those younger than 5 years old
* Signs of measles include high fever about 10-12 days after exposure, and lasting 4-7 days; runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes and small white spots inside the cheeks
* After several days of having the measles virus, a rash typically forms on the face and neck, and it spreads
* A measles rash typically lasts for 5 to 6 days and occurs about 14 days after exposure to the virus
*Complications are more common in children younger than 5 and adults older than 20
* People who recover from measles are immune for the rest of life
Sources: World Health Organization, CDC, www.measlesrubellainitiative.org