More than 1000 students and staff members at two Los Angeles universities have been quarantined on campus or sent home as a global outbreak of measles continues to reach record highs.
The latest outbreak comes as measles cases worldwide increased 300 per cent so far this year, according to the latest provisional data from the World Health Organisation, which revealed all corners of the globe are now swept up in almost unprecedented outbreaks of the potentially fatal disease.
Measles cases have now reached a 25-year high in the US.
On Saturday (AEST), two days after Los Angeles County ordered the quarantine precautions, about 325 of those affected had been cleared to return after proving their immunity to the disease through either medical records or tests, health officials said.
The action at the University of California (UCLA) and the California State University (Cal State-LA), both in Los Angeles – which together have more than 65,000 students – reflected the seriousness with which public health officials are taking the nation’s outbreak.
The number of measles cases in the US has climbed to nearly 700 this year, including five in Los Angeles County and 38 altogether in California.
Australia had 47 confirmed measles cases in the past six months, with 35 in New South Wales and 12 in Queensland, prompting health agencies to urge people to check their vaccination status.
Globally, there have been 112,163 measles cases so far this year, with fresh outbreaks hitting the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, according to WHO.
The surge is blamed largely on parents not getting their children vaccinated because of misinformation about the supposed dangers.
California State University reported 875 students, staff, faculty and visitors were placed under quarantine after possibly being exposed to measles earlier this month. About 250 had been cleared by Friday after proving they are immune to the disease.
At UCLA, 129 students and faculty were quarantined. All but 46 had been cleared by Friday.
Those covered by the quarantine were singled out based on their possible exposure to either an infected UCLA student who had attended classes in two buildings on three days earlier this month, or a person with measles who visited a Cal State-LA library on April 11, officials said.
Given the amount of time a person can remain contagious, officials said the quarantine would end at UCLA on Tuesday and at Cal State-LA on Thursday.
Twelve days ago, New York counties banned unvaccinated children from playing in public areas, and New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio declared the situation a public health emergency, and ordered all unvaccinated residents of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to immediately receive the vaccine – or face a $US1000 ($1420) fine.
The majority of cases in the city have come from unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities, as a growing number of anti-vax parents refuse to vaccinate their children.
Measles usually causes fever, runny nose and an all-over rash but in a small number of cases can lead to deadly complications such as pneumonia and swelling of the brain.