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Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2019
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512

MEASLES OUTBREAK IS NOT OVER

Help protect our community - make sure you are up-to-date with your measles vaccination,
if not, get vaccinated!

NEW CITY, NY - - Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert remind residents that the measles outbreak continues in Rockland. As of January 17, 2019, there are 116 confirmed reported cases of measles in the county. Several of those people have had complications, including hospitalizations and premature labor.

"Even in previously healthy children, measles can cause serious illness, such as pneumonia, requiring hospitalization. Measles may cause a pregnant woman to give birth prematurely. Measles complications can cause people to be hospitalized, including in intensive care units for newborns, children, and adults. We've had these measles complications right here in Rockland. The best way to prevent measles, and its complications, is to remain up-to-date with your measles vaccination," said Dr. Ruppert.

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 serious in all age groups. However, children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are more likely to suffer from measles complications. Measles can be especially dangerous 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 measles may cause pregnant woman to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby. Those who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed (when your body can't fight disease) are also at high risk for complications.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting the disease. The Health Department is actively working to contain the further spread of measles. If you are ill with a fever, rash, or conjunctivitis (red watery eyes) – help protect our community by staying home, not having visitors, and not going out in public. High community vaccination rates help protect people who cannot get vaccinated because they are too young or have specific health conditions. Free MMR vaccines are available by calling:

  • The Rockland County Department of Health at 845-364-2497 or 845-364-2520 to schedule an appointment to get a free MMR vaccine at the Pomona health complex.
  • The Rockland County Department of Health Spring Valley Family Planning Clinic is also providing MMR vaccines, by appointment to Family Planning patients. Family Planning Clinic patients can call 845-364-2531 to schedule an appointment.

In addition, MMR vaccines are available at local health care providers or by calling a local federally qualified health center, such as Refuah and Hudson River Health Care. The federally qualified health centers see patients on a sliding fee scale and by appointment. They may require patients new to their centers to have a well visit first, before a vaccine can be given.

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. Everyone four years and older needs two doses of MMR vaccine unless there are contraindications (medical reasons not to get the vaccine). Two doses of the MMR vaccine can offer 97% protection from the measles.

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. "Schools in Rockland should remind families to make sure their students have received their second MMR vaccine, to help bring an end to the current measles outbreak," said Dr. Ruppert.

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. However, because there is a measles outbreak in Rockland County, the Rockland County Department of Health is currently recommending that children 6 months through 11 months of age get an MMR vaccine now. They will still have to get a vaccine at 12-15 months of age and again at 4-6 years of age, however getting an MMR vaccine now will help give them some protection against measles. Therefore, any child 6 months or older or any adult who has not received an MMR vaccine yet should get one now.

If you are unsure if you are immune to measles, contact your healthcare provider. Individuals are considered protected or immune to measles if they have had physician or provider-confirmed measles or have a lab test confirming immunity. Those born before 1957, and those who have received two doses of MMR vaccine, are also considered immune, however there is a very small chance that in this outbreak they may still get measles, but a much less severe case and much less likely to spread to others.

The measles outbreak in Rockland is not limited to one community however it is affecting residents of Spring Valley, New Square, and Monsey. Due to Rockland County's small geographic size, exposure to the measles may occur ANYWHERE in Rockland. People may shop, dine, and run errands around the county before they realize they are ill, but are contagious.

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. The Health Department is actively working to contain the further spread of measles. As a result, if you are ill with a fever, rash, or conjunctivitis (red watery eyes) – help protect our community by staying home, not having visitors, and not going out in public.

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 can get more information about measles by visiting https://bit.ly/2zh4v1G and by calling the New York State Department of Health toll free Measles Information Line at (888) 364-4837. The Rockland County Department of Health is closely coordinating our response with the New York State Department of Health to ensure the health and safety of all residents.

"In addition, those who develop symptoms are strongly urged to call their physician or other health care provider as measles is a reportable disease. This means that health care providers must contact our local health department. This is essential to contain this outbreak," said Dr. Ruppert.

The Health Department is asking all health care providers to immediately report all cases of suspect measles to the Rockland County Department of Health Communicable Disease Program staff by calling (845) 364-2997 during normal business hours, or (845) 364-8600 after hours/weekends. Health Care Providers can call this number for additional information.

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