BART riders might have been exposed to measles 

click to enlarge BART announced Wednesday that a passenger who has measles used the transit system last week and that riders should look out for signs of the disease. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner file photo
  • BART announced Wednesday that a passenger who has measles used the transit system last week and that riders should look out for signs of the disease.

BART riders may have been exposed to the measles last week, officials warned the public Wednesday.

Last week, a Contra Costa County resident with measles who works for LinkedIn in San Francisco commuted by BART from home to the tech company's office. The person was not identified.

"Measles is circulating in the Bay Area and we don't know yet where this person was exposed," said Erika Jenssen, Communicable Disease Program chief with Contra Costa Health Services.

"The ongoing measles outbreak in California highlights the need for people to be vaccinated,” she said, “and this is just another example of how interconnected our region is and how important it is for everyone to be up to date on their immunizations."

Anyone not vaccinated is at risk of measles exposure, officials said.

Officials with LinkedIn, a social network for professionals, said they were informed Tuesday about the measles diagnosis and are working with the San Francisco Department of Public Health in managing the situation.

"The health and well-being of our employees is our absolute top priority, and we will take whatever steps are advised to ensure their safety and the safety of the general public," LinkedIn said in a statement.

Contra Costa Health Services also detailed the whereabouts of the measles-infected person. The person traveled between the Lafayette and Montgomery Streets stations during the morning and evening commutes from 6 to 8 a.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 4-6, a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The person also spent time at E&O Kitchen and Bar, which is on Sutter Street in San Francisco, on the evening of Feb. 4, health officials wrote. Officials warned that patrons who visited the restaurant between 5:30 and 7 p.m. may have been exposed to measles.

E&O is cooperating with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and remains open. Rachael Kagan, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco health department, said diners should not worry.

“There is no reason to close a restaurant that a person carrying measles was in for 90 minutes,” she said in an email to The San Francisco Examiner. "The exposure risk is limited to that time period only. We made the announcement so that people who were there could be aware and take action if necessary, such as get vaccinated if they are not already or see their doctor if they are experiencing symptoms consistent with measles.

"The restaurant is cooperating fully and there is no reason to demonize them."

Contra Costa Health Services and the San Francisco health department said they are investigating the person's movements to notify those who might have had close contact.

In a statement, BART said it uses industrial-strength disinfectants to clean its trains multiple times a day.

Contra Costa health officials said measles symptoms can begin one to three weeks after exposure and include high fever, runny nose, coughing and watery red eyes. A rash develops on the face and neck two to three days after the fever begins and spreads across the body, they said. The rash usually lasts five or six days. An infected person is contagious for several days before and after the rash appears.

As of five days ago, California had 99 reported cases of measles, 14 of which have been reported in the Bay Area, according to the San Francisco health department of Public Health. There is no word on how many measles cases have been added to that tally since.

Contra Costa health officials plan to hold a news conference about the situation Wednesday.

The San Francisco health department recommends San Franciscans wanting to obtain a measles vaccine drop in to the The AITC Immunization and Travel Clinic on Grove Street, which can be reached at (415) 554-2625.

The department has sufficient resources to vaccinate interested people, despite any possible spikes in demand, Kagan said.

“The most important piece of information is that if you are vaccinated, you are not at risk,” she said.

There have been no confirmed cases of measles in San Francisco, Kagan added.

Contra Costa County residents can call (925) 313-6740 for more information.

"While we are concerned about the current outbreak in California and its potential to spread,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, San Francisco’s health officer, “we cannot emphasize enough that the solution is simple and available: be vaccinated."

Some riders took the news in stride Wednesday.

“Our kids are vaccinated so for me it's not a problem,” said Juan Castagaino, who was at the Powell Street station Wednesday with his two children in strollers. “It concerns me that people haven't vaccinated their kids.”

Bay City News contributed to this report.

About The Author

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Born and raised in San Francisco, Fitzgerald Rodriguez was a staff writer at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and now writes the S.F. Examiner's political column On Guard. He is also a transportation beat reporter covering pedestrians, Muni, BART, bikes, and anything with wheels.
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