Sharp Health Care temporarily closed its Rees-Stealy Urgent Care in La Mesa as officials investigate several reported cases of measles, which may be tied to an outbreak at Disneyland.
Six siblings, ranging in age from 22 months to 18 years old, came into the urgent care at 5525 Grossmont Center Drive about 11:45 a.m. Wednesday. The urgent care is on the first floor of a medical plaza, across the street from the hospital's emergency room.
Once employees realized all six had rashes and measles-like symptoms, caretakers masked them, isolated them and got doctors and nurses involved, according to Sharp Marketing and Communications Manager Frances Schnall.
They then closed down the facility, posting a sign and two triage nurses at the door to turn away people.
Officials also talked with those in the same room as the possible measles patients. They wrote down each person's name and asked if they are up-to-date on their measles vaccinations. Schnall said the information for about 40 people will be handed over to county health officials for tracking.
Doctors and nurses have tested the potential measles patients and sent those samples to the county. It's unclear when the results of the tests will be released.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing. Since it is airborne, the urgent care had to wait a certain time before the air inside circulated and was clean. They also did a thorough cleaning of the area, disinfecting everything from top to bottom.
By Wednesday evening, all six patients were sent home, and just before 6 p.m., the urgent care was reopened.
All other departments in the Sharp complex operated as usual. Officials said their caregivers are trained to treat such cases and are taking "every precaution to protect the safety of all patients and staff."
If the tests come back positive for measles, these six cases could be linked to a measles outbreak which has been traced back to Disneyland resort. Twenty-six people in four states have been sickened after visiting the theme park between Dec. 17 and Dec. 20, 2014.
"Indeed, two of the siblings had been to Disneyland with the parent on Dec. 18, so that's the actual link," said Dr. Wilma Wooten with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.
However, county health officials do not believe the family, if positive for measles, exposed others outside of the urgent care.
Three confirmed measles patients live in San Diego. Two of the local cases — a pair of siblings — visited the Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon on Dec. 29, possibly exposing others, county health officials warned. Another measles case was confirmed Tuesday. All local patients never had to be hospitalized.
Early symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two to three days in, tiny white spots may develop inside the mouth. After three to five days, the distinctive rash begins to form.
The health officers told NBC 7 they expect the number of California cases to grow as they confirm new instances of the virus. A local pediatrician called the outbreak "alarming" and blames the recent anti-vaccine movement for spreading a disease for which there is already an immunization.