By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Officials with the Wyoming County Health Department, in the western part of New York state, report investigating five confirmed cases of measles within a local Mennonite community.

Image/ David Benbennick

The cases ranged in age from 11 to 22, and public-health officials are working to determine whether there were additional exposures, said Wyoming County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregory Collins.

“It’s limited right now, from all the information we have, within the Mennonite community itself, and we’re working actively to identify any other contacts,” Collins said.

The state and county health departments are working to determine whether there were additional exposures and to advise people who may have experienced symptoms consistent with measles to contact Wyoming County Department of Health or their health care provider.

Wyoming County health officials are actively engaging the Mennonite community to discuss the importance of getting vaccinated to prevent the spread of measles.

Got Smallpox?

Health officials remind the public that the single best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated. Individuals should receive two doses of MMR vaccine to be fully protected. If a person is unsure if they are immune, they should contact their health care provider.

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.

A new requirement Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law in June ended all non-medical exemptions for vaccines required for children to attend all public, private and parochial schools, as well as childcare programs.

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. People first develop a fever, then may have a cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by appearance of a rash. People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash.

Symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis or runny nose. Symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as 7 days and as late as 21 days after exposure.