More than 200 students and employees in Los Angeles received quarantine orders on Wednesday and Thursday, just days after the occurrence of measles in Los Angeles.
U.C.L.A. and California State University, Los Angeles, work with district health workers to identify and contact with students and employees who may have been exposed to measles this month.
Those at risk of contracting smallpox received orders for health officers – legal orders issued by county officials – to stay at home and avoid contact with others as much as possible.
In the state of California, Los Angeles, the quarantine orders were issued on Thursday, in response to the potential exposure of an infected person who visited the university library on April 11.
"At this point, 127 employees and 71 student workers have been returned home under quarantine orders," the university said in an e-mail statement Thursday night.
At U.C.L.A., a student who had engaged chickenpox attended classes in two university buildings on April 2, 4 and 9, while infected, said Chancellor Jin D. Block in a statement on Wednesday.
"After learning about this incident, U.C.L.A. immediately identified and reported more than 500 students, faculty and staff with whom the student can come in contact or who may be otherwise exposed," said Dr. Blok.
He added that most of those people were cleared, but 119 students and eight faculty members did not have the necessary medical records immediately, so district officials issued quarantine orders on Wednesday.
"We have found that those who live on campus need to take care of U.C.L.A. while they are quarantined," the statement added.
"We expect this trend to continue, as more people will provide evidence of immunization or show tests to have measles immunity," the university said.
Quarantine orders may last up to 21 days from the date of possible exposure. Quarantine period for U.C.L.A. ends on April 30, and the one for the California-based Los Angeles County ends on May 2, the Los Angeles Public Health Department announced.
The department believes that exposure to chickenpox may have taken place this month at the Los Angeles International Airport and in several restaurants near Glendale.
Smallpox is an extremely infectious virus that can cause severe respiratory symptoms, rashes and fever. In some cases, especially in babies and young children, the consequences can be serious. Pneumonia and encephalitis – swelling of the brain – are the most common complications.
A case of measles can quickly turn into a phenomenon, especially because people may not know that the disease a few weeks before they begin to show symptoms.
People who contract smallpox often seek medical care in hospitals where they can potentially transmit the disease to other patients, especially those with compromised immune systems. Infants usually do not receive measles vaccination until they become about 1 year old and are therefore very vulnerable. Some elderly people are also at high risk as well as patients taking drugs that affect the immune system, such as those who are being treated for arthritis.
Los Angeles is the last metropolitan area affected by measles, as part of the national wave of cases. On Wednesday, federal health authorities said the number of cases of measles in the United States increased to 695, the highest annual figure since the disease was declared "eliminated" in the country in 2000.
The virus is most affected by families who do not vaccinate their children, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have accused "organizations that deliberately direct these communities with inaccurate and wrong information about vaccines".