Quarantine Issued for UCLA Students and Employees Exposed to Measles

Today in Security: Quarantine Issued for UCLA Students and Employees Exposed to Measles

Officials issued quarantine orders to more than 200 university students and employees in Los Angeles who may have been exposed to measles.

The quarantine was issued after a contagious person attended classes on three separate days and another contagious person visited the University of California–Los Angeles (UCLA) library on April 11, according to The New York Times. University and public health officials have spent the last few weeks identifying and contacting individuals who may have come into contact with that person. 

​“Most of these individuals have since been cleared, but we are still awaiting medical records from 119 students and eight faculty members to determine whether they are immune to the measles,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block in a statement. “As a result, [Los Angeles County Department of Public Health] has decided to quarantine those individuals until their immunity is determined. We expect that those notified will be quarantined for approximately 24 to 48 hours until their proof of immunity is established. A few may need to remain in quarantine for up to seven days. We have arranged for those who live on campus to be cared for at UCLA while they are quarantined.”

The quarantine order is just the latest step officials have taken to stop the spread of measles in the United States after outbreaks in Washington State, California, and New York. 

New York City declared a public health emergency earlier this month and ordered mandatory measles vaccinations. The measure was in response to an outbreak that has affected at least 285 people, including 246 children, The Washington Post reports.

“We cannot allow this dangerous disease to make a comeback here in New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio about the order. “We have to stop it now.”

In an episode of The Daily—a New York Times podcast—Sarah Maslin Nir shares how the New York outbreak began in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn and why these individuals were especially susceptible to anti-vaccination rhetoric.

“To understand why this spread like wildfire in this community, you have to understand the unique nature of the Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn,” Nir explains. 

​Measles is extremely contagious with up to 90 percent of people exposed to a person who has the disease becoming infected if they are not protected. Measles was eradicated in the United States in 2000, but has since seen a resurgence—partially because of global travel and the rise of the anti-vaccination movement. 

​“Every year, unvaccinated people get measles while they are abroad, bring the disease into the United States, and spread it to others,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. “Measles can spread quickly in communities where people are not vaccinated. Anyone who is not protected against measles, including children too young to be vaccinated, are at risk of getting infected.”​