UC Berkeley. Photo: Nina
A second UC Berkeley has been diagnosed with measles. Photo: Nina

A UC Berkeley student was confirmed to have measles on Friday, April 4.

The case, the second to affect a Cal student this year, comes in the midst of a high number of measles cases throughout the state. The California Department of Public Health reported Friday that there have been at least 51 cases this year so far, compared to four at the same time last year. The vast majority of cases involve those who traveled to, or were in contact with, known measles cases.

The student was isolated on April 3, soon after reporting a rash suspected of being measles-related.

The student landed on a domestic flight to Oakland on March 30, rode BART to Berkeley and attended classes April 1 through April 3. The university, and the City of Berkeley health department, have contacted students who might have been in class with the student on those days.

The student’s exposure to others was limited, according to a statement released by the City of Berkeley, and, because the diagnosis was made swiftly, unvaccinated people who were potentially exposed can still get the vaccine, which can prevent infection when given within 72 hours of exposure. People who have been vaccinated against measles, or have had measles before, are very unlikely to be affected by contact with a contagious person.

Berkeley said the current case is unrelated to another case in mid-February, which involved a Contra Costa County resident who commuted to UC Berkeley via BART.

Berkeley Public Health and University Health Services are encouraging people to check their vaccination records for the MMR vaccine and to contact a health provider if they have not received a full set of doses. Health officials urge anyone who shows symptoms of measles to stay home and contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Measles’ symptoms can begin one to three weeks after exposure and can include high fever, runny nose, coughing and watery, red eyes. A rash develops on the face and neck two to three days after the fever begins, and spreads down the body. The rash usually lasts five or six days. An infected person is contagious for several days before and after the rash appears.

“Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, health officer for the City of Berkeley. “It spreads through the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Fortunately, the measles vaccine is highly effective in preventing infection.”

City of Berkeley residents can call 510-981-5300 for additional information.  Information is also available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at the California Department of Public Health, or via this Fact Sheet.

With whooping cough epidemic, is Berkeley immunizing? (04.20.11)

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...