First measles case of 2015 confirmed in Contra Costa County

Alicia Trost of BART, Erika Jenssen with Contra Costa Public Health, and Tomas Aragon with City & County of San Francisco, from left to right, brief reporters on the first measles case confirmed in Contra Costa County in 2015. (Photo by Larry Zhou)

Alicia Trost of BART, Erika Jenssen with Contra Costa Public Health, and Tomas Aragon with City & County of San Francisco, from left to right, brief reporters on the first measles case confirmed in Contra Costa County in 2015. (Photo by Larry Zhou)

The first measles case in the recent national outbreak was confirmed in Contra Costa County today. According to county officials, the person with measles travelled by BART between the Lafayette and Montgomery stations between the dates of February 4 and 6 during commute time.

“It’s low risk if people have been vaccinated to get measles from this exposure,” said Contra Costa Public Health Communicable Disease Program Chief Erika Jenssen, speaking at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. But for “people who may have travelled on BART train on those times, and may have been exposed, and are not vaccinated or not immune, they could catch measles.”

This is the first measles case in Contra Costa County in 2015. According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), there have been 107 confirmed cases in the state reported since December, when the outbreak began. So far, according to the agency, 39 of those cases are among people who visited the Disneyland theme park in December and another 25 are among people who had close contact with them. (See the CDPH’s the most recent update, dated February 9, as well as their page with more information about measles. That tally, last updated before today’s announcement, does not include the Contra Costa County measles case.)

Contra Costa Health Services has issued an advisory because riders could have been exposed to the infected person on the BART train. According to BART officials, the infected person is believed to have used the train system between February 4 and 6, commuting in the morning from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and at night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“For the morning commute heading into the city from that line, Pittsburg/Bay Point line, it’s about 25,000 riders and you can assume the same amount came back that night heading home,” said BART district communications department manager Alicia Trost. There could have been from 115 to 130 people in that one train car with the infected person, according to Trost.

This is not the first time someone infected with measles travelled on BART and might have infected other riders. In 2014, a UC Berkeley student travelled on BART while infected with measles.

According to a media release from Contra Costa Health Services, the person also visited a restaurant called the E & O Kitchen and Bar in San Francisco on the evening of February 4, and the agency is warning that patrons who visited this restaurant between 5:30 and 7 p.m. may have been exposed to measles. Both the restaurant and the person’s employer are fully cooperating with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, according to the media release.

According to county officials speaking today at the press conference, the infected person is currently staying at home, and their healthcare provider reported the case to the local authorities. Health officials don’t know where this person was exposed and cannot confirm the person’s vaccination history. Jenssen said most adults don’t have their vaccination history, but should double check with their health-care provider.

Jenssen said although the Pittsburg/Bay Point line doesn’t run through Richmond, it’s still possible that Richmond residents were exposed to measles when they transferred from MacArthur BART station. Richmond residents should be cautious and get vaccinated, she said.

According to the media release, measles symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, watery eyes, and a rash that spreads from the head and face. Symptoms can appear 1 to 3 weeks after exposure. The disease is spread through the air by an infected person coughing or sneezing, and the virus can linger in the air for up to two hours.  For more information, please visit the Contra Costa Public Health website.

You can read Richmond Confidential’s earlier coverage of the California measles outbreak here.

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