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With measles and whooping cough cases happening regionally, and across the country, many parents in Southern California are rightfully concerned about how to best protect the health of their children.

On April 22, 2019, Los Angeles County health officials reported five cases of measles – the first in the county in 2019 – were linked to international travel. Also, earlier this month, Orange County health officials reported that an infant died following a bout with whooping cough – the first death from that disease since 2007.

The outbreak of measles should not be ignored, and although it can be serious for all age groups, it’s mostly dangerous for children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 70. The recent anti-vaccination movement, that occurred in 2007 by celebrities contributed to a higher number of measles cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) named the anti-vaccination movement among the 10 global health threats for 2019. However, the anti-vaccination movement didn’t start with celebrities in 2007, but goes all the way back to 1763, France, according to the Measles & Rubella Initiative.

According to Dr. Robert Riewerts, regional chief of pediatrics with Kaiser Permanente Southern California, it’s important for parents to know the facts, and take the necessary steps to protect their children.

“When it comes to both measles and the whooping cough, immunization is the best answer to help protect your child from getting sick,” Dr. Riewerts said. “In fact, most childhood vaccines are 90 to 99 percent effective in preventing disease. Not vaccinating your children puts their health at grave risk.”

Measles is an infectious viral disease that causes fever and a red rash on the skin, typically occurring in childhood. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can be a serious disease for all ages, but especially for infants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine be given to children at age 12 – 15 months, and a second dose at age 4 to 6. For whooping cough, the CDC recommends a DtaP vaccination at two, four, and six months old, at 15 through 18 months, and at 4 through 6 years of age.

One out of every 20 children with measles get pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children. Also, one out of every 1,000 children with measles will develop swelling of the brain, which can lead to seizures, and can also leave the child deaf, or with an intellectual disability. For every 1,000 children who get the disease, one or two will die from it, reports the CDC.

If a pregnant woman gets infected with measles, she’s at risk to deliver a prematurely new born or have a low-birth-weight infant.

The following locations have been identified by public health officials as places where the public may have been exposed to measles:

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Tom Bradley International Terminal, arrived at Gate 218 on April 1, from 6:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.

University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Franz Hall on April 2, 4, and 9, and Boelter Hall on April 2, and 9, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

California State University, Los Angeles, Main Library, on April 11 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

El Pollo Loco Restaurant, 1939 Verdugo Blvd, La Canada Flintridge, on April 11 from 2 – 4:30 p.m.

El Sauz Tacos, 4432 San Fernando Rd, Glendale, on April 13 from 1:30 – 4 p.m.