RELIGION

Disneyland measles outbreak is far smaller than infections that raged in Ohio Amish country

  • In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, photo, pediatrician Charles Goodman vaccinates 1-year-old Cameron Fierro with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine, at his practice in Northridge, Calif. The largest measles outbreak in recent memory occurred in Ohio's Amish country where 383 people were sickened last year after several traveled to the Philippines and brought the virus home. While that outbreak got the public's attention, it's nowhere near the level as the latest measles outbreak that originated at Disneyland in December, prompting politicians to weigh in and parents to voice their vaccinations views on Internet message boards. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, photo, pediatrician Charles Goodman vaccinates 1-year-old Cameron Fierro with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine, at his practice in Northridge, Calif. The largest measles outbreak in recent memory occurred in Ohio's Amish country where 383 people were sickened last year after several traveled to the Philippines and brought the virus home. While that outbreak got the public's attention, it's nowhere near the level as the latest measles outbreak that originated at Disneyland in December, prompting politicians to weigh in and parents to voice their vaccinations views on Internet message boards. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)  (The Associated Press)

  • (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)  (The Associated Press)

  • This Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 photo shows a printed chart with the recommended immunization schedule in the United States for people up to 18 years of age, at a pediatrician's office in Northridge, Calif. The recent measles outbreak traced to Disneyland is different from past outbreaks because it quickly spread around the country after it wasn't immediately contained, public health officials say. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    This Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 photo shows a printed chart with the recommended immunization schedule in the United States for people up to 18 years of age, at a pediatrician's office in Northridge, Calif. The recent measles outbreak traced to Disneyland is different from past outbreaks because it quickly spread around the country after it wasn't immediately contained, public health officials say. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)  (The Associated Press)

The largest U.S. measles outbreak in recent history isn't the one that started in December at Disneyland.

It happened months earlier in Ohio's Amish country, where 383 people fell ill after unvaccinated Amish missionaries traveled to the Philippines and returned with the virus.

The Ohio episode drew far less attention, even though the number of cases was almost four times that of the Southern California outbreak, because it seemed to pose little threat outside insolated religious communities.

The Disneyland outbreak has already spread well beyond the theme parks that attract tens of thousands of visitors from around the globe.

Dr. James Cherry is a pediatric infectious disease expert at the University of California, Los Angeles. He says the outbreak "could continue to smolder" if not enough people get vaccinated.