50K San Fran Commuters May Have Been Exposed to Measles


A San Francisco resident infected with measles rode a train for 3 days last week, possibly exposing 50,000 Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system users, local health authorities said Wednesday. The infected person, of whom little is known other than they are a LinkedIn employee, is the first confirmed case in Contra Costa County. The unnamed rider is known to have traveled on the morning and evening rush-hour commutes – from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m – back and forth between Lafayette station in the East Bay and the Montgomery station in San Francisco of last week’s Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th and Friday 6th. That particular commute is five-and-thirty minutes long, but officials warn that the very infectious virus that spreads through coughing and sneezing could have lingered in the air for about 2 hours, San Francisco city and county Health Officer Tomas Aragon said.

Additionally, he or she visited the E&O Kitchen and Bar on 314 Sutter Street in San Francisco on the evening of February 4th. The risk of exposure there only lasted for 90 minutes, between 5: 30 and 7pm. Public health authorities are on alert level green, so to speak. “Although the risk of contracting measles by being exposed on BART is low, Bay Area residents should be aware of the situation,” the Contra Costa County health department said in a statement. Commuters and diners alike are advised to check their vaccination histories, get shots if needed, and tell their doctors if they experience runny eyes, congestion, high fever, rash, or other symptoms. This is “why we get immunized not just to protect ourselves, our families and our children, but also to protect the population,’ said Aragon.

Health department spokesperson Rachael Kagan adjoined that “the most important piece of information is that if you are vaccinated, you are not at risk.” Toddlers younger than one year, pregnant women, and the unvaccinated in general, however, are in danger. Measles “is a disease you can get by casual contact on BART,” hospital epidemiologist at San Francisco General Hospital Dr. Lisa Winston told the San Francisco Examiner. “If you have no immunity, even just breathing the air can be enough to give you measles. If you’re not vaccinated, measles is one of our most infectious of infectious diseases.” The county’s communicable disease programs chief Erika Jenssen agreed that “it’s low risk, if people have been vaccinated, to get measles from this exposure. But for those who may be traveling at that time who are not vaccinated or not immune, they could contract measles.”

Jenssen added that “we do know that measles has been circulating through the Bay Area. This person doesn't know where they were exposed,” and in fact traveled on BART before he or she was diagnosed. His or her movements are being traced and people known to have had close contact notified by county and state health departments. LinkedIn, which is based in Mountain View and has offices in the Financial District, is collaborating with health officials as well. “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,” the company said in a statement.