The Rockland County Health Department is advising residents to stay protected from measles as new cases are surfacing across the country. “As the disease spreads in the US, we are taking proactive measures to prevent Rockland County from enduring a repeat of the measles outbreak in 2018, when measles surfaced and a total of 312 cases were confirmed,” said County Executive Ed Day.
Measles is one of the most contagious viruses on earth; 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. 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 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.
The Rockland County Department of Health’s Immunization Action Program (IAP) is in regular communication with the New York State Department of Health to ensure vaccine compliance with the NYSDOH Immunization Requirements for School Entrance/Attendance. The RC-DOH additionally acquired a mobile vaccination unit through grant funds in addition to an inflatable 2-lane trailer that will both be utilized for vaccinations.
“We continue to urge residents to check their immunization status and get vaccinated if they are un-immunized. We can prevent cases of measles by keeping up-to-date with vaccinations. The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine remains the only safe and effective way to prevent the measles. Anyone who is not protected, through past infection or vaccination, is at risk of getting the disease, especially when traveling internationally,” said Maria Souto, MPH, Coordinator of Communicable Disease for the Rockland County Department of Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging health care providers to be “on alert” for patients with symptoms of measles — a virus declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 — after 9 cases have been reported across the country since the start of the new year; so far in four states – Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Individuals are considered protected or immune to measles if they were born before 1957, have received two doses of MMR vaccine, or had measles with a lab test confirming immunity. Individuals who are not immune to measles and are exposed are at great risk for developing measles. Speak to your health care provider to determine if you need an MMR vaccination.
Visit the Rockland County Department of Health measles webpage for more information about the disease.
“To successfully prevent measles from resurfacing in this county we need cooperation from all communities,” concluded County Executive Day.