- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

NEVADA CITY, Calif. (AP) - A charter school in the Sierra Nevada closed Tuesday after an unvaccinated child was diagnosed with measles.

The student showed measles symptoms after returning to California after an overseas trip and was infectious while attending Yuba River Charter School on March 17, according to public health officials.

“The child has fully recovered but many persons have been exposed including other unvaccinated students at the child’s school,” said a statement from the state Department of Public Health.

Students who have not been vaccinated are at risk of getting and spreading the disease even before symptoms appear, Nevada County health officials said in a statement.

“The disease is easily spread through the air by coughing, sneezing or close contact with an infected person,” the statement said.

The virus can cause a rash, high fever, and other symptoms that usually last one to two weeks. However, children under 5 and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of more severe complications, such as pneumonia, and even death, health officials said.

Yuba River Charter School canceled Tuesday classes and after-school programs. Sessions were to resume Wednesday only for students and staff members who can prove they have measles immunity, either through documentation of vaccination or blood test results showing antibodies to the virus.

Others will be barred from school until April 8 and should be kept under home quarantine until then, Nevada County Health Officer Ken Cutler said in a statement to parents.

Vaccinations can reduce the risk of measles but some parents have declined to immunize their children based on now-discredited contentions that vaccinations are linked to medical disorders or autism.

Nevada County, which has about 99,000 people, has one of the lowest child vaccination rates in California. Only about 43 percent of kindergarten students who entered school last fall had up-to-date vaccinations, state Sen. Richard Pan, said in a statement.

“To prevent outbreaks of measles, about 94 percent of the people in a community need to be vaccinated,” Pan said.

Pan, D-Sacramento, is a pediatrician who co-authored a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year that struck down California’s personal belief exemption for immunizations, after more than 100 people who had been to Disneyland contracted measles in late 2014.

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