Kern County schools are taking proactive steps to ensure their students are safe from measles as neighboring communities’ outbreak numbers continue to rise.
Measles is a contagious respiratory disease that causes a rash and fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been no cases reported in Kern County as of Tuesday, said Michelle Corson, public relations officer for Kern County Public Health. As of April 24, the most recent numbers from the California Department of Public Health show 38 confirmed measles cases, including 28 outbreak-associated cases, have been reported in California.
“We are still in the clear for now,” Corson said. “Somehow we’re not involved in this.”
There was one Kern County resident with a confirmed case of measles in 2004.
Cal State Bakersfield’s Student Health Services issued a campus-wide memorandum Friday recommending students, faculty and staff check their immunization records and receive all the appropriate vaccinations. Though the campus has not had any suspected or confirmed cases of measles, Erika Delamar, associate director of Student Health Services, said it is all about staying proactive.
“We always try to stay on top of things so when other universities are close and have any type of vaccine-related illness, we’ll send out an alert like this,” she said. “Sometimes our students are in organizations that travel, so this is to tell them it’s out there and they’re recommended to get vaccinated.”
The memorandum was released after a quarantine order was issued for hundreds of people at Cal State University, Los Angeles and UCLA, who may have been exposed to measles and either have not been vaccinated or cannot verify that they have immunity. There have been six confirmed cases in Los Angeles County.
Delamar said she has not had any students come in for vaccinations since the memorandum was released, but she has received phone calls about what the cost and process is for getting vaccinated.
Students enrolled in the CSU system must have one dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, or MMR, Delamar said. That will be changing come fall 2020 when two doses of the vaccine will be required.
“With consultation from health center directors from CSU, we got together twice a year and with recommendations from the directors, that’s why that requirement is changing,” Delamar said.
At Bakersfield College, the Kern Community College District does not require verification that students have been vaccinated, but some individual programs do require verification, according to BC's website. The Student Health and Wellness Center can order titers and it is the student’s responsibility for the cost and choosing a community lab to perform the testing.
Bakersfield City School District and Kern High School District are not doing any extra outreach because students must have all required immunizations to attend school. Among those on the list is the MMR vaccine.
“If students aren’t vaccinated, they can’t be enrolled,” said Erin Briscoe, public information officer at Kern High School District.
There are more than 30,000 and 40,000 students enrolled in BCSD and KHSD, respectively.
Symptoms of measles include a fever, cough, runny nose or red eyes, with a rash of tiny, red spots that start at the head and spread to the rest of the body, according to the CDC. If someone experiences these symptoms, they should contact their healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment.