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Nine people who visited Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in December have confirmed cases of measles, state public health officials announced Wednesday.

Three further suspected cases of the highly infectious, airborne viral disease are under investigation, according to a news release from the California Department of Public Health.

All of the confirmed and suspected cases were for individuals who reported visiting the Anaheim theme parks between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20, the release stated.

“It is likely that a person infectious with measles was at one of the theme parks on these dates. People can be infectious with measles for nine days,” the state’s news release said. “Several large contact investigations are ongoing.”

Mickey's Fun Wheel is shown in July 2010. (Credit: HarshLight/flickr via Creative Commons)
Mickey’s Fun Wheel is shown in July 2010. (Credit: HarshLight/flickr via Creative Commons)

In a one-sentence statement, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ chief medical officer, Dr. Pamela Hymel, said the company was “working with the health department to provide any information and assistance we can.”

Seven of those with confirmed cases were reported in California — in Alameda, Orange, Pasadena, Riverside, and San Diego. They range in age from 8 months to 21 years.

Two other confirmed cases were for Utah residents.

Measles typically begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, state public health officials said. Within a few days, a red rash appears, typically first on the face and then down toward the rest of the body.

“If you have symptoms, and believe you may have been exposed, please contact your health care provider,” said state health officer Dr. Chapman. “The best way to prevent measles and its spread is to get vaccinated.”

Of the seven confirmed cases in California, six patients were not vaccinated for measles, with two of them too young to receive the vaccine, the health department’s news release stated.

Children typically get their first dose of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine at 12 months old or later, and then a second dose before kindergarten.

Measles has been eliminated in the U.S. since 2000, but travelers to parts of the world where measles is widespread or where outbreaks have occurred can bring the disease to America, according to the state health department.

“Disney and other theme parks in California are international attractions and visitors come from many parts of the world, including those where measles is endemic,” the release stated.

More information about the measles virus and vaccine is at the state Department of Public Health’s website.

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