Health Crisis: Universal Confirms Disease Outbreak, Thousands Notified of Contamination Danger

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The entrance of Universal Studios Hollywood, featuring a rotating globe surrounded by a metal structure with the park's name, as visitors walk towards the entrance.

Credit: Shad Islam via Unsplash

If you were enjoying Universal Studios Hollywood or other Los Angeles tourist destinations over Easter weekend, you may have been exposed to measles.

Universal Studios Hollywood entrance
Credit: Universal Studios

When guests visit a theme park, it is impossible to think that you will not come into contact with germs. At Walt Disney World, for example, we have covered numerous events where guests left their vacation stating that they returned home very ill, with either a cold, flu, or COVID-19. Magic Kingdom brings in around 50,000 guests a day, making it, and really, any theme park in general, a breeding ground for bacteria.

That being said, one would not typically expect to come home with measles.

Universal Studios Hollywood sign. Image by masbebet christianto from Pixabay
Credit: masbebet christianto from Pixabay

Variety confirmed the outbreak, “The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has been informed of a possible measles exposure at Universal Studios, county officials reported Saturday.”

The potential exposure originated from a single case of measles involving an out-of-state tourist who passed through the Los Angeles area from March 30 to April 1. The infected individual visited Universal Studios on March 30 and the Santa Monica Pier on March 31.

The incident also pertained to an individual who frequented various other locations in Los Angeles, such as the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream in Beverly Hills, and several restaurants at Universal Studios and elsewhere. Universal Studios issued a statement to Variety addressing the situation, directing the public to the county’s health department for further details.

This Universal Land Is Built Atop an Old Parking Garage
Credit: Super Silly Fun Land – Universal Studios Hollywood

Their statement reads:

“We were recently made aware that a guest who had been exposed to measles visited numerous Southern California locations including our theme park,” Universal Studios said in a statement. “While there is very low risk of transmission as a result of effective vaccination, the safety and security of our guests and team members is of utmost importance. More information is available through the Department of Public Health.”

Muntu Davis, a Los Angeles County health officer, said, “Measles is spread by air and by direct contact even before you know you have it and can lead to severe disease. Measles is highly contagious for those who are not immune to it. Initially causing fever, cough, red, watery eyes and followed by a rash, it can result in serious complications for young children and vulnerable adults.”

The county indicated that guests present at Universal Hollywood during the specified dates and times may face potential measles exposure within 21 days following the date of exposure. During Easter weekend, the theme park also saw record-breaking numbers of guests wanting to enjoy the park, explore Super Nintendo World, ride the Tram Tour, and more, putting thousands at risk.

Iconic globe at Universal Studios Hollywood
Credit: Universal

Sadly, Universal Studios Hollywood is not the only massive theme park impacted by what seems to be a recent uptick in the spread of measles.

Florida is currently investigating multiple cases of the spread of measles, making Walt Disney World Resort a prime target.

The Florida Department of Health in Broward County is probing six measles cases linked to an outbreak at an elementary school in Weston. Additionally, two more cases involving children under 10 were disclosed by the Florida Department of Health, bringing the county’s total to eight. Broward County Public Schools affirmed that the overall count within the district remains at six.

Measles outbreak sign with sad Mickey Mouse
Credit: Inside the Magic

Statewide, “most kids in our public schools have had the vaccine, although there’s been some slippage in that in recent years. The kids who are not vaccinated, if they’re exposed to measles, 90% of them will get measles. So it’s a highly infectious disease, very contagious,” said Rust, a professor in the Florida State University College of Medicine and director of the university’s Center for Medicine and Public Health.

With over 56 million guests traveling into Orlando International Airport alone this year, the possibility of spread is significantly higher in the tourist areas of the state.

As per the CDC, measles is an extremely contagious illness with the potential to result in severe complications, including fatalities. Common symptoms encompass fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and a characteristic rash of red spots. In rare instances, measles can progress to pneumonia, encephalitis, or even death. Moreover, it has the capability to compromise the immune system and potentially diminish its memory.

Do the germs at Disney or Universal keep you away from the parks? Or is the risk worth it?

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