Measles continues to plague Rockland County residents, despite thousands of vaccinations that have been administered in the last several weeks.
Rockland County Health officials announced on Monday that the number of confirmed cases of measles has jumped to 76, and the Department of Health is currently investigating eight other suspected cases.
The outbreak began with visitors to and from Israel in September. Since then the number continues to grow as unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children and adults are exposed, the department said. The majority of the cases has mainly affected the Orthodox Jewish community in New Square, Spring Valley and Monsey.
According to the Department of Health, “measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease (in the lungs and breathing tubes) caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people (when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs, or sneezes).
"Measles is one of the most contagious viruses on earth; one measles-infected person can give the virus to 18 others. In fact, 90% of unvaccinated people exposed to the virus become infected. You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, up to 2 hours after that person is gone. And you can catch measles from an infected person even before they have a measles rash.”
Symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis (red watery eyes) or a runny nose. People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash. Symptoms usually appear 10 to 12 days after exposure but may appear as early as seven days and as late as 21 days after exposure.
Since measles is highly contagious, the Health Department, with additional support from the New York State Department of Health and local partners, is working to limit exposures and offer free vaccine to boost the county's immunization rate and protect its residents from the harmful effects of the measles virus.
“To prevent the spread of illness, the Department is advising individuals who may have been exposed and who have symptoms consistent with measles to contact 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. Residents who have been asked by a health care provider to ‘watch for measles,’ or who are otherwise ill – including flu-like symptoms, are advised to stay home and not go out in public.”
Rockland County Department of Health recommends:
- Children 6 months through 11 months of age get an MMR vaccine now. Getting an MMR vaccine now will help give them some protection against measles. They will still have to get a vaccine at 12-15 months of age and again at 4-6 years of age;
- Children 1 through 3 years of age who have already received their first MMR vaccine should get a second MMR vaccine now, as long as 28 days have passed since the first MMR vaccine was given to them. This second MMR vaccine will count for school entry;
- Any adult who has not received their first MMR vaccine yet should get their first MMR vaccine now;
- There may be medical reasons not to get the MMR vaccine, speak to your health care provider.
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