Public Health News
Public Health News

San Luis Obispo County Resident Diagnosed with Measles

Author: Public Health Department
Date: 5/5/2018 2:48:46 PM

Health officials remind residents: make sure you and your family are vaccinated.


Update, May 24, 2018: 

The incubation period for this case has now closed, and no further cases of measles have been reported. The patient is recovering and doing well.

In addition to supporting the individual patient, the Public Health Department conducted an investigation with more than 60 personal interviews and lab testing for those who weren’t sure if they had received the vaccine. The Public Health Department also provided the measles vaccine for those who requested this protection.

This speedy response started with rapid confirmation of the measles virus at the SLO Public Health Laboratory. Because the measles virus is not commonly seen in the U.S., laboratory confirmation can take 5-6 days at many laboratories. The Public Health Laboratory is specifically equipped for illnesses like measles that are less common but pose a threat to the community’s health. As a result, the lab was able to provide confirmation in less than a day. The lab scientists used a molecular amplification test (real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, RT-PCR) developed at the CDC and the California State Public Health Laboratory.

“Responding effectively in a case like this is about working together,” said  Dr. Penny Borenstein, Health Officer of the County of San Luis Obispo. “Our lab team, public health nurses, communicable disease investigators and epidemiologist all responded promptly and efficiently. The patient cooperated with our investigation. County residents and our local media helped us spread the word. I thank everyone who played a part in preventing an outbreak.”

While measles is uncommon today in the U.S., cases do still occur. If you have not been vaccinated or are not sure if you've been vaccinated: contact your regular health care provider or contact the Public Health Department at 805-781-5500 to get your vaccine.


The County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department confirmed today that an adult resident of the county has been diagnosed with the measles virus. The patient was not vaccinated against measles and was exposed to it while traveling out of state.

The case was confirmed by test results from the County Public Health Laboratory. The Public Health Department investigates all cases of measles in San Luis Obispo County, identifies people who may have been exposed to the virus, and contacts those people to help ensure they receive treatment if needed and do not spread the disease further. The patient is cooperating with the Public Health Department’s investigation and its work to ensure the virus does not spread to more people.  Measles is a potentially serious illness that spreads through the air from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Measles is not common in the United States today because most people are protected from it by childhood vaccines; however, cases do still occur.

"Measles is a disease we take very seriously," said Dr. Penny Borenstein, Health Officer of the County of San Luis Obispo. "We are fortunate today to have a vaccine that offers very good protection against this illness. If you aren't sure that you and your family have been vaccinated against measles, talk to your doctor and make sure you get vaccinated. It's the best way to stay safe."

Measles typically begins with high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth. Then a rash of tiny red spots appears on the skin, first on the face and then on the rest of the body. People with measles are usually contagious for about nine days, including the four days before their rash starts, the day of rash onset, and four days after.

If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of measles: contact your regular health care provider and tell them you are concerned about measles.

If you have not been vaccinated or are not sure if you've been vaccinated: contact your regular health care provider or contact the Public Health Department at 805-781-5500 to get your vaccine. The measles vaccine is a series of two shots and provides good protection against the virus.

The last case of measles in San Luis Obispo County was diagnosed in January 2017.

For more information about measles, visit http://cdc.gov/measles.