The "happiest place on earth" was anything but for at least nine people, who left Disneyland with more than just a pair of mouse ears. Nine people (seven in California and two in Utah) who visited Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in mid December have been diagnosed with the measles, and three others are awaiting confirmation that they too have the disease.
The ages of those afflicted range from eight months to 21 years, and two cases were in infants too young to have been given the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine. The first dose of the two-dose vaccine is administered to children between 12 and 15 months of age, with the other given around age four. Eight of the nine cases were in people who were not vaccinated. The properly-administered MMR vaccine is effective in preventing the diseases in around 95 percent of people.
According to the CDC, measles is respiratory disease caused by a virus and spread through the air. It was considered eradicated in the United States in 2000, though 2014 saw a record-breaking number of confirmed cases: 610 according to the Centers for Disease Control, "the highest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000," the CDC says on its website.
Nevertheless, California health officials speculate that since Disneyland attracts visitors from around the world -- including places where the highly contagious disease is prevalent -- that was likely the case here.
Some areas of California already have unsettlingly low vaccination rates for young children. This further weakens herd immunity, which puts populations of people too young or too medically fragile to be vaccinated at risk of acquiring diseases. While measles was thought to be eradicated in the United States in 2000, low vaccination rates have led to the highest number of cases in decades. The best way to prevent these diseases from spreading is to become immune to them.
We protect our children from every conceivable visible danger, but it's equally important to protect them from invisible dangers. The scariest thing a child should encounter at Disneyland should be the Haunted Mansion or the Lady Tremaine—not a previously-eradicated disease.