Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert advise residents to make sure you and your family are up-to-date on your measles vaccinations. Due to additional cases of measles from international travelers to Rockland, more people potentially have been exposed to measles. The first case of international travel was in late September, and two more cases due to separate international travelers in early October are leading to more cases of measles among non-immune residents.
There are seven confirmed cases of the measles in Rockland from three different groups of international travelers, according to Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert.
Since measles is still common in many countries and there are ongoing measles outbreaks overseas, travelers will continue to bring this disease into the United States. Measles is highly contagious, so anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting the disease. People who are unvaccinated risk getting infected with measles and spreading it to others, and they may spread measles to people who cannot get vaccinated because they are too young or have specific health conditions.
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.
You can also attend the Health Department’s free MMR vaccine clinics on:
• Thursday, October 18th from 4:30pm to 6:30pm at the Community Outreach Center, located at 21 Remsen Avenue, Suite 201 in Monsey, NY
• Friday, October 19th from 9:30am to 11:30am located at Pascack Community Center, 87 New Clarkstown Rd., Nanuet NY
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. To prevent the spread of illness, the Department is advising individuals who have symptoms consistent with measles to call their health care provider, a local clinic, or a local emergency department before going for care. This will help to prevent others at these facilities from being exposed to the illness.
“We continue to work diligently to monitor the situation and protect the community from measles, and will continue to keep residents informed of any updates,” said Dr. Ruppert.
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