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

Date: May 21, 2019 


CONTACT: Kara Kane, Public Information Officer


Phone: (716) 858-4941   



Ongoing Measles Outbreaks Highlight Risks for Unvaccinated Children and Adults

ERIE COUNTY, NY – With local schools set to end their academic years in June, many parents are looking ahead to sending their children to summer camps. The largest measles outbreak in the past two decades has reached at least 24 states as of this writing. Summer camp operators, camp staff and families who attend those camps can take steps to monitor for measles and prevent the spread of this highly infectious disease.


Measles transmission continues in current outbreak areas in New York City and Rockland County. Measles has the potential to spread in other communities this year, especially during the summer travel season. In a camp setting, measles can spread rapidly. “We are asking camp operators to educate their staff about measles symptoms, and monitor staff and campers for suspected cases,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “That monitoring starts with the initial health screening as campers arrive for illness or recent measles exposure, and continues throughout the camp session with counselors and medical staff.”


“Measles vaccines are not required for camp attendance, but individual camps can choose to recommend or require specific immunizations for staff and campers,” continued Dr. Burstein. “The NYS Department of Health and Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) strongly encourage all camps to include the age-appropriate vaccine schedule as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics as part of their camp policies for attendance.”


Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease. ECDOH recommends two doses of measles vaccine for anyone who was born on or after January 1, 1957, who will work at or attend a summer camp. Most U.S. residents receive two doses in childhood; however, international camp employees and some campers may not have had one or two doses.  


Suspected cases of measles or other vaccine-preventable diseases must be reported to the local health department within 24 hours under New York State Public Health Law. Delays in reporting or failure to isolate an infected individual can lead to large outbreaks and transmission to other communities once campers and staff return home.  Ill individuals and their caregivers are asked to contact their medical providers and discuss symptoms prior to their office visit to contain exposure.


“Parents have a responsibility too, to make sure their children are up-to-date on their vaccines,” Dr. Burstein continued. “And now is the time for summer camps to review their policies and procedures and make sure they are communicating to staff and parents what is being done to protect campers’ health and safety.”




Measles Symptoms                             

Symptoms usually appear between 7 to 14 days after a person is exposed to measles but can take as long as 21 days. The first symptoms are usually:

  • High fever, and;
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red watery eyes
  • Rash
    • Small red spots, some of which are slightly raised.
    • Spots and bumps in tight clusters give the skin a splotchy red appearance.
    • Usually appears 2 to 4 days after the fever begins and lasts 5 to 6 days.
    • Begins at the hairline, moves to the face and neck, down the body and then to the arms and legs.