Berkeley Bowl Oregon Street facade and parking
An adult infected with measles visited Berkeley Bowl earlier this month, according to the city of Berkeley. Photo: Google Maps

A Berkeley resident was infected with measles this month, according to city health officials.

The infected person is no longer contagious, but people who crossed paths with them at Berkeley Bowl earlier this month could be at risk of contracting the disease, the city said Friday.

The adult Berkeley resident was reportedly at the popular grocery store at 2020 Oregon St. between 3-5 p.m on May 7.

The city first became aware of the potential measles case on May 11 and confirmed it on Monday, said Lisa Hernandez, Berkeley’s health officer.

“We do a thorough interview, and understand and ascertain the person’s movement and the risk of those movements,” Hernandez said in a phone interview Friday.

When asked whether the person went elsewhere in Berkeley while they were infected, Hernandez said the investigation identified Berkeley Bowl as the relevant location. She said no further information will be released about the infected person’s identity.

Berkeley Bowl has been notified about the case, and the store is perfectly safe to enter now, said city spokesman Matthai Chakko.

Measles is an extremely contagious airborne virus. The disease is at a 25-year high across the country, but this is Berkeley’s first documented case during recent outbreaks.

The cases have prompted concerns about those who have not received the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, given to young children in two doses.

“This effective and easy protection is important because the virus itself is easily transmitted: an infected person’s cough or sneeze can linger in the air for up to an hour – at which point the risk dissipates,” the city said in a news release Friday.

(Berkeleyside contacted the city before the release was sent out, after Councilwoman Kate Harrison sent an earlier version of the message to her constituents, but heard back from the city after the release was published.)

California children are required to get vaccinated before they turn five, but until recently there were exemptions for families whose personal belief systems prohibited vaccination.

Medical exemptions are still granted, and the number of children who receive them has grown since the personal-belief exemption was eliminated. Proposed legislation, Senate Bill 276, would require stronger state oversight and documentation of those medical exemptions. The Berkeley School Board passed a resolution this month supporting the bill.

A small Berkeley private school, Berkeley Rose Waldorf School, had one of the lowest kindergarten immunization rates in the Bay Area in 2017-18, with just 29% of those students vaccinated (some might not yet have reached the cut-off age for mandatory vaccines when that data was reported).

Initial symptoms, which appear one to three weeks after exposure, include runny noses, red eyes, coughs and fevers, said the city news release. After that, the signature measles rash typically starts on the face and spreads elsewhere.

“If  you have concerns, connect with your medial provider,” Hernandez said. Anyone experiencing potential symptoms should notify their provider before showing up in person.

Berkeleyside has reached out to Berkeley Bowl and will update this story if the store responds.

City Councilman Ben Bartlett, whose district includes the grocery store, said, “We are monitoring the situation, and working to contain the impact on the community.

“I’m expecting a child myself right now, so I’m acutely sensitive to the fact that we all have the responsibility to protect one another from harm,” he said.

This story was updated after publication to include comments from Ben Bartlett.

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...