A University of California Los Angeles employee who contracted measles ate at a campus food court twice last week while believed to be contagious, according to campus officials who are now warning of potential exposure to the virus.
The employee’s case is the 12th confirmed case of measles in Los Angeles County this year, according to a statement from the county’s Department of Public Health, which is investigating. It comes amid the largest outbreak in the United States since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.
The employee ate lunch on July 2 and July 3 at a fast food restaurant in the UCLA Court of Sciences Student Center, the university said in a statement. The school and public health department have asked anyone who was in the center, known as the Bomb Shelter, between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on those days to see a healthcare professional to determine their immunity to measles.
Anyone who may have been at that location risks developing measles within 21 days of the exposure, an advisory from the health department issued Tuesday said.
“Campus epidemiologists and top health experts have been working closely with the county public health department to ensure that all who might be affected receive notifications and proper care,” Michael Beck, the university’s administrative vice chancellor said in a statement. “Upon learning of the situation, UCLA identified and notified employees who may have come into contact or who may have otherwise been exposed.”
Most of the 12 measles cases that have been confirmed in Los Angeles County in 2019 have occurred in people who were unvaccinated, the health department said.
Beck said the university is in the process of clearing employees who have immunity to measles. Those who do not are not allowed to report to work until their incubation period passes, he said.
“I know there is concern about measles, particularly among the very small percentage of our community who have not been vaccinated,” Beck said. “Please be assured that we have the resources we need for prevention and treatment, and that we are working very closely with local public health officials on the matter.”
The most recent measles case is not related a previous exposure at the university, the county health department said.
In April, a quarantine was ordered for hundreds of students, staff and faculty at UCLA and California State Univeristy, Los Angeles who were exposed to a confirmed case of measles and could not prove that they had been vaccinated against the disease.
Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or if someone comes into direct contact or shares germs by touching the same objects or surfaces. Symptoms may include fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash of red spots.
The disease can stay in the air for up to two hours after a sick person coughs or sneezes and can stay on surfaces for many hours, making a college campus especially susceptible for the disease to spread due to the high volume of people going into and out of buildings.