The number of measles cases are rising quickly in Rockland County as the case tally went from 15 confirmed cases one week ago, to 25 on Friday and as of Sunday, county officials said there are 33 confirmed cases of measles in the county and five more suspected cases are under investigation.
Some 2,000-plus people have been vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine since the outbreak began in late September, which originated with travelers coming from Israel who are in the middle of a large measles outbreak.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people. Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children, as it can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, deafness, and death. Others who are at high risk for complications if they get the measles include pregnant women who are not immune, as well as those who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed (when your body can’t fight disease). About one out of four people who get measles will be hospitalized.
Symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis (red watery eyes) or runny nose. People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash. Symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as 7 days and as late as 21 days after exposure.
Individuals are considered protected or immune to measles if:
• they were born before 1957
• have received two doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine
• have had measles confirmed by a health care provider
• or have a lab test confirming immunity
If you are unsure if you are immune to measles, contact your healthcare provider. Individuals should receive two doses of MMR vaccine to be fully protected. Typically, the first dose of MMR vaccine should be given at 12-15 months of age and the second dose should be given at four to six years of age (age of school entry), although individuals may also be vaccinated later in life. In New York State, measles immunization is required of children enrolled in schools, daycare, and pre-kindergarten. Since August 1990, college students have also been required to demonstrate immunity against measles.
Individuals who are not immune to measles are at risk for developing measles if exposed to it. The single best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated. If you are not immune to measles, MMR vaccine or a medicine called immune globulin may help reduce your risk of developing measles. Check with your health care provider to see if you are up-to-date with your measles vaccination, if not, schedule an appointment to get vaccinated.
According to the CDC, as of October 6, 142 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 25 states and the District of Columbia year-to-date in 2018.
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