State health officials have confirmed 13 more measles cases since last week, bringing the statewide total for the year to 49. At least two of the new measles victims were intentionally unvaccinated, bringing to at least 16 the number of measles victims - primarily cihldren - not vaccinated on the basis of personal beliefs.
Of the 11 other new cases, three had been vaccinated, while the vaccination status for the remaining eight is still under investigation, said state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez. The vaccination status of another 12 victims also remains unclear, he said.
By this time last year, there were four cases of measles in California.
Since the measles was declared eliminated in the US in 2000, there have been between 4 and 40 cases of the respiratory disease in California each year, most of them involving people who traveled to countries where measles is still present.
State and county data indicate that 11 people have contracted the measles while abroad, and another seven contracted it directly or indirectly through someone who had traveled. At least four of the travelers were intentionally not vaccinated; the CDPH is still investigating the circumstances surrounding one of the travelers.
The surge in measles cases has worried state health officials. California allows parents to opt out of vaccinating their children by invoking a personal belief exemption, but the large number of this year’s victims who opted out of a vaccine is leading officials to urge parents against opting out.
The largest number of cases this year has been in Orange County, which has reported 21 measles cases, including 11 of this week’s 13 new cases. The other two new cases this week were reported in San Mateo County.