Ensure Your Family is Protected from Measles

MEDIA RELEASE

From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date April 29, 2014                           

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

 Ensure Your Family is Protected from Measles

Vaccines Protect Not Only Individuals but Entire Communities

 

ERIE COUNTY, NY— In light of recent outbreaks of measles in several communities in the United States, the Erie County Department of Health offers these timely reminders about a disease that, while not very common in the United States due to effective immunization programs, can still be found in certain areas

Since measles is still common in many countries, this disease will continue to be brought 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 get measles put others at risk who cannot get vaccinated because they are too young or they have specific health conditions. In addition, communities with pockets of unvaccinated people are vulnerable to measles outbreaks said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “Measles spreads through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. It is so contagious that any child who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease.”

Burstein continued: “New York State has seen the number of measles outbreaks for the first four months of 2014 at the highest level since 1996 which is a cause for concern. To date in 2014, New York State has seen 29 people infected with the measles but none of those cases have been in Erie County. There are NO recently reported measles cases in Erie County. The last confirmed case for Erie County was in 2010. ”

The most common complications of measles are diarrhea, pneumonia, and ear infection, but it may also cause brain damage and rarely death. It is particularly harmful to persons with immunosuppression, pregnant women and very young children.

The single best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated. Most New Yorkers have been vaccinated, but if unsure, they should check with their healthcare provider. Individuals should receive 2 doses of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to be protected. The first dose should be given at 12-15 months of age and the second dose is routinely given at 4 to 6 years of age, but may be given as soon as 28 days after the first dose. Anyone at any age who is not immune to measles, and has no condition that would prohibit receiving the vaccine, should receive 2 doses of MMR vaccine at least 28 days apart.

Individuals are not at-risk of contracting measles if they are immune. A person is considered immune if he or she has received two doses of MMR vaccine, or if he or she was born before January 1, 1957, or has a history of laboratory-confirmed measles, or has a blood test confirming measles immunity. Any of the above confers immunity.

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For more information:

Erie County Department of Health –

http://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=ecdoh-immunization-information

Center for Disease Control and Prevention – http://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/faqs.html#measles-elimination

New York State Department of Health -- http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/measles/fact_sheet.htm