Measles Outbreak Hits Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley

Google HQ.
Google HQ. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The growing measles epidemic has landed at the headquarters of one major Silicon Valley company: Google.

Per BuzzFeed News, Google staff doctor David Kaye sent an email to some employees last week informing them that someone who had stepped foot in a building in the Mountain View headquarters in early May has recently been diagnosed with measles. (It is unclear whether or not the person works at Google.) In the precautionary email, he wrote, “We have been working with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department and they would like us to share this measles advisory, which contains information on measles, exposure risks and actions to be taken.”

But not all employees were notified. Five workers who spoke to BuzzFeed News said they had not received Kaye’s email, which the anonymous employee who sent BuzzFeed News the document believes was only emailed to people who worked in the 1295 Charleston building. However, per the source, some workers who were on the email list forwarded it on to others who may have passed through the 1295 building, as well as posted it on internal Google groups.

Though measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, thanks to a successful vaccination program, major outbreaks have been occurring across the country at a dangerous rate this past year, which has seen 555 confirmed cases. Earlier this year, Washington state declared a public health emergency over 26 confirmed measles cases, which has since grown to 74, per the Washington State Department of Health. And, in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that unvaccinated individuals in certain Williamsburg zip codes — which has seen 228 confirmed measles cases in the majority-Orthodox Jewish community — would be required to receive the measles vaccine.

In Santa Clara County, in which Google’s HQ is located, public-health officials said there are four confirmed cases of measles, but a spokesperson for the county’s public-health agency told BuzzFeed News that there’s no ongoing public-health risk.

However, some employees are still alarmed — per a follow-up BuzzFeed News report — especially those who were reportedly part of the cohort that Google didn’t officially notify. They, instead, learned about the measles case through the BuzzFeed News report and a company discussion board. (Following the report’s publication, Kaye sent out a second email to a wider group of employees.)

“This is very concerning … also would like to know more,” one person wrote of the BuzzFeed News report in an internal group titled “Expectant New Parents.” “Has anyone seen the detailed itinerary? We have a newborn at home, and wondering if we need to request the vaccine as a special case.”

In another company communication group, another employee wrote, “A bit upsetting that I had to find out about this through this Group, via a BuzzFeed News article, rather than from some official Google internal comms.”

Measles Outbreak Hits Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley