Bay Area Rapid Transit, also known as BART, riders are at risk of measles after a University of California Berkeley infected with measles took the popular form of transportation.
Health officials say that tens of thousands of San Francisco Bay Area residents may have potentially been exposed to measles recently when an unvaccinated UC student attended classes and used BART transportation.
Contra Costa County’s public health officials said that anyone who took BART during February 4 through February 7 during the morning or late evening may have been exposed to the contagious illness. On February 12, the UC student was confirmed to have been infected with measles, likely to have been infected by the disease while traveling to Asia.
In the U.S., most people are immune to measles either because they have been vaccinated, which began in 1963, or because they have already been infected by the disease previously. However, health officials say that their main concern is for children, who are particularly vulnerable to the disease. Measles has the potentional to cause permanent brain damage, seizures, or deafness in children.
Home-grown cases of measles are supposed to have declined in the U.S. starting in 2000. However, the country has seen several outbreaks of the disease due to travelers who bring it back from other countries where it remains very common.
Measles is spread through the air such as when an infected individual sneezes. The measles vaccine is very effective in preventing the infection. However, health officials claim that the Bay Area is one of the regions said to have many unvaccinated children in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are fewer than 60 cases of measles reported each year. However, in 2013, at least 175 cases were reported in the U.S.
BART riders who have been experiencing symptoms such as high body temperature, runny nose and watery eyes should seek medical attention as soon as possible.