Disneyland-linked measles outbreak highlights growing anti-vaccine trend

The measles outbreak at Disneyland has proved it's a small world after all.

The fear is spreading beyond California. One victim traveled to the Seattle area for the holidays, flying there and back to California on two different airlines. The woman in her 20s is not vaccinated, and she is the latest example of a controversial trend.

Health officials now say 26 cases of measles in four states have been linked to visits to the park in mid-December, reports CBS News correspondent Carter Evans. Of those infected, more than half were not vaccinated.

"Around the world, we've seen big outbreaks of measles. ... There's more of a chance of the virus coming to us," said Dr. Matt Zahn, medical director of Orange County Health Care Agency. "The other issue that we know is that some communities are certainly seeing immunization rates drop and so there's a combination there of risk factors."

Here in the U.S., measles infections have skyrocketed. More than 600 cases were reported last year, the highest number since 2000. The virus is highly contagious and can take up to 12 days to show up. Symptoms include cough, fever and a rash. The resurgence of this disease, once believed to have been eliminated, has doctors concerned.

"Getting everybody vaccinated is so important because trying to contain these infections can really be difficult," Zahn said. "There's a lot information out there that can be confusing or contradictory, and if people don't get immunized as a result, that's a problem."

Skipping shots has become a growing trend in parts of California. Last year, parents turned in more than 13,000 "personal beliefs exemptions" informing the state that their children would be opting out of recommended vaccines.

That's more than twice the number of kids who aren't fully vaccinated compared to 10 years ago.

Rebecca Estepp said her son suffered a severe reaction after being immunized as a baby. She encourages other parents to do their homework.

"I think parents that have chosen not to vaccinate realize that they are taking somewhat of a risk, but it's a calculated risk," Estepp said. "They may have seen a vaccine injury in their own families or by their own neighbors and they're just questioning."

Zahn said skipping vaccinations can be dangerous, even deadly, and that the outbreak at Disney should send a strong message.

"The vaccines work, the vaccines are safe, there are significant diseases out there that you can protect your children from," Zahn said.