Experts say it’s only a matter of time before the highly-contagious measles virus shows up in San Diego, and local hospitals are making sure they’re prepared for its arrival.
With close to a hundred more cases reported this week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the country is likely to see the most measles cases in nearly two decades.
The threat has moved Rady Children’s Hospital to make sure its negative pressure rooms, or isolation rooms – sealed rooms that don’t allow air to escape into the rest of the hospital – are primed and ready.
“It's a scary situation right now, knowing that there are multiple outbreaks across the country,” Rady’s Infection Control Coordinator, nurse Megan Medina, said. “We're always worried about that measles case that walks through that door and potentially expose all of our patients here in the hospital,”
Medina says the isolation rooms don’t allow airborne sicknesses like tuberculosis or measles to spread in the building.
“We want to make sure that those microorganisms that come off that patient stay in this room and aren't moving to other rooms,” she said.
The germy air gets cleaned through a filter in the ceiling and is released outside.
The CDC says that as of Monday, 626 cases of measles have been confirmed in 22 states. There are 23 confirmed cases in California but none in San Diego -- yet.
One reason for the increase in infections stateside, according to the CDC, is travelers are bringing the virus in from overseas. The institute also says groups of people who are unvaccinated spread the virus like wildfire.
Depending on the severity of the case, an admitted measles patient could spend anywhere from a few days to a few weeks in isolation.
And to keep yourself from ever having to spend one day in an isolation room, Medina and public health experts says you should get vaccinated.
“We want to prevent you from ever having this virus in the first place,” Medina said.
The CDC says is the majority of people who have gotten the measles since 2000 were unvaccinated.