Two relatives of an unvaccinated California college student infected with measles who potentially exposed thousands of others to the infection this month have become ill, local health officials said Friday.
The new cases are men in their 20s and 30s who are family members of the University of California, Berkeley, student who attended classes and rode the region's Bay Area Rapid Transit system before he was diagnosed with measles.
The men, also unvaccinated, voluntarily quarantined themselves after becoming ill, and officials with the Contra Costa Health Services department said they have not identified anyone else who may have been exposed by them.
“At this point, no other cases have been reported,” said CCHS spokeswoman Kate Fowlie. She said the men are "close" relatives, but wouldn't characterize the relationships or say whether they lived with the student
The student likely contracted measles during a trip to the Philippines and then potentially exposed people between Feb. 4 and Feb. 7 in class and on the morning and evening BART commutes.
BART transports nearly 400,000 riders each weekday. Health officials have warned anyone who was on the trains and not immune to measles to be vigilant for symptoms through this weekend.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Most people in the U.S. are either naturally immune to measles from having been infected or have been vaccinated against it. About 90 percent of unvaccinated people will get infected if they’re exposed to it.
Measles was considered eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, but the nation has seen a recent uptick in cases caused by unvaccinated travelers who become infected abroad. Last year, at least 175 cases of measles were reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of last week, California health officials have counted 15 cases of measles in six counties.
First published February 28 2014, 12:34 PM
JoNel Aleccia has been a senior health reporter and editor for NBC News since 2008. In that role, Aleccia is responsible for breaking news, enterprise and investigative stories about consumer health and health policy issues for NBCNews.com and TODAY.com. Send her an email here.
... Expand Bio
Aleccia joined msnbc.com and, later, NBC News, after more than 25 years as a reporter, editor and columnist covering health, education, social issues and regional government at newspapers throughout the Northwest.
Aleccia is the co-recipient of two Joan M. Friedenberg Online Journalism Awards, in 2009 and 2011, fromthe National Press Club. She also has received multiple regional and local journalism awards. Aleccia lives in Redmond, Wash. She is married and the mother of two grown children.