Social media is alive with questions after today’s announcement by the Southern Nevada Health District that three measles cases have been newly diagnosed in the Las Vegas area and are linked to Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. All three cases are believed to have contracted the contagious viral illness from an Emeril staffer earlier in February who was, in turn, exposed to the illness by an infant too young to vaccinate. The toll at the restaurant is now three staffers and one patron.
Metro Las Vegas has now reported a total of nine measles cases in 2015. These are the first, the Health District reports, since 2011. While the vaccination status is unknown for the newest cases, the original Emeril staffer was under-immunized, with just one MMR vaccination.
The Health District is warning that exposures occurred at the restaurant and at other locations Feb. 18-22. No information has been released on the number of customers of the Fish House that may have been exposed.
Across the continent, a measles outbreak in Quebec that began with a visit to a Disney park in California is exploding. Le Devoir reports on Feb. 27 that 32 illnesses, in one extended family, have now been identified. None of the 32 have been vaccinated.
The number of measles cases in California continues to increase, as well. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued its Feb. 27 report and states that since Dec. 16, 2014, the state has seen 130 measles cases. The CDPH believes that 127 of them can be considered Disney-linked. Three illnesses are from other measles strains and are unrelated.
Publicly available data from federal and state public health agencies show that there have been a total of 178 measles cases reported in the United States in 2015. Another 20 cases fall into the mid-December to date time frame, for a total of 198.
A combined total of 142 measles illnesses are now linked to exposures at Disney parks in Southern California. Just 56 measles cases are considered unrelated. Outbreaks in Illinois, Nevada and Washington account for most of the non-Disney illnesses. The Illinois outbreak centers on a suburban Chicago daycare where 12 infants too young to vaccinate have contracted measles.
No deaths have been reported in the United States from the current outbreak. An unvaccinated toddler in Berlin, Germany, is reported to have died from the illness in the on-going outbreak there, according to the CBC. While nearly all cases are being linked to refugees from Bosnia, at least two have been tied to the Disney-linked outbreak in the United States. In North America, Mexico has reported one Disney-linked case of measles and Canada has a large linked outbreak in Quebec.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory illness. It is airborne and the virus can infect new patients up to two hours after a sick person has left an area. A two dose course of the MMR vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state, will protect 97 percent of those receiving the injections. A small number of patients will not develop immunity and additional MMR vaccinations may be necessary. Children under 12 months of age and patients with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients, are not normally able to be immunized and are at great risk of contracting the disease.