There has not been a recorded case of measles in Costa Rica for 17 years, and health officials would like to keep it that way. Thursday they issued an advisory in the wake of a measles epidemic in California. Most of the 95 persons infected has some contact with Disneyland, according to the Ministerio de Salud.
California officials said that they suspected the virus came to Disneyland with a foreign visitor because the United States had been measles-free for years.
The disease is called sarampión in Spanish. Those who get it develop a high fever and later a red rash, basically red dots, in three to seven days. Before vaccinations were developed, the disease was a common one for school children along with mumps. There is a single shot vaccination now for those two diseases as well as rubella, which also is known as German measles.
Hilda Salazar, a physician at the health ministry, urged parents to check the vaccination records of their children. Travelers should be extra vigilant as well as tourism workers, said the ministry.
Children here usually receive vaccinations as infants and they get a booster right before starting school, said the ministry.
The disease can be life-threatening, particularly for adults who have not been vaccinated. After the arrival of the Spanish in the Americas, measles ravaged the native populations and may have killed as many as half.