The California measles outbreak that started in Disneyland four months ago, and triggered a national debate over vaccinations, is over, a state health official announced Friday.
No new outbreak-related measles cases have been reported to state health department for two 21-day incubation periods, or 42 days, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer Dr. Karen Smith said.
This quiet period allowed public health officials to declare the outbreak, which first reared its head at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim in December that ultimately infected 131 Californians to be over. No one died from the outbreak.
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This does not mean that California is measles free.
The health department reported there are 44 other other cases now, which have an unknown exposure source. And the Canadian province of Quebec still has 159 cases traced to Disneyland.
The episode renewed debate about the need to vaccinate as only 81 of the 131 people who got the measles had vaccination documentation. California is one of about 20 states where parents can cite a personal belief waiver. Most states only allow religious and medical exemptions, and two permit only medical exemptions.
This week, a California bill stalled in the Senate that would have prevented parents from sending unvaccinated kids to school using waivers for religious or personal beliefs. Exemptions originally would have been available only for children with health problems, but they were recently expanded to include homeschoolers. Extra protection was provided for Sen. Richard Pan (D-Yolo County) who anti-vaxxers likened to Adolf Hitler for wanting to force vaccinations.
One of the most dramatic stories to emerge during the measles outbreak was that of Rhett Krawitt, 6, of Marin County who has leukemia. His parents, Carl and Jodi Krawitt, publicly pleaded for all children to be vaccinated because their own son was too sick to be immunized because of his cancer therapy, and they worried that he'd catch the measles from others.
Marin County has among the highest non-vaccination rate in the state.
The health department acknowledged that it is possible, but unlikely, that some of the measles cases with unknown exposure sources are unrelated importations of this particular B3 strain into California, Smith said.
Because of their epidemiologic and genotyping links, the health department considers them part of the same outbreak, although the B3 strain is also known to circulate in a number of other countries and additional importations during the outbreak are possible, Smith said.
She stressed that while this outbreak is over, it does not mean that there will not be future measles cases reported in California.
The California measles patients during the Disney-linked live in 14 local health jurisdictions: Alameda, Los Angeles, Marin, Merced, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Ventura counties and the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena.
Public health officials don't know who sparked the outbreak but believe it was someone who caught the virus overseas and visited Disneyland while contagious.