The measles outbreak continues to spread through the Hudson Valley.
Just when you thought you were free and clear of your chicken pox days, a rapidly spreading case of measles in the Hudson Valley will have you ready to add your doctor’s phone number to your speed dial list a.s.a.p. With warmer weather right around the corner, here’s what you need to know about the outbreak and what you can do to stay healthy in the Hudson Valley.
September 2018: Month the first case of measles was reported in Rockland County
According to the Rockland County Government, the first case of measles came when an international traveler visited Rockland County with a suspected case of measles. Multiple cases in international visitors to Rockland followed, leading to increased exposure to the disease.
March 26, 2019: Date Rockland County declared a county-wide state of emergency
Due to an uptick in reported measles cases in the region, County Executive Ed Day announced a state of emergency throughout Rockland County. Beginning at midnight on March 27 and running for 30 days, the proclamation declares that all individuals under 18 years of age and unvaccinated against measles will not be allowed to enter public places until the ban expires or they receive the MMR vaccination.
“Every action we have taken since the beginning of this outbreak has been designed to maximize vaccinations and minimize exposures,” says Day. “We must do everything in our power to end this outbreak and protect the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reason and that of children too young to be vaccinated.”
According to the declaration, individuals who fall under the terms of the restriction will be barred from communal places relating to civic, governmental, social, or religious functions, as well as those for recreation, shopping, dining, transportation, education, and medical treatment. Although law enforcement will not patrol or ask for vaccination records, anyone found in violation of the terms will be directed to the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office.
Eastern Ramapo: Location of outbreaks in Rockland County
Following the initial report, outbreaks of measles extended to eastern Ramapo, specifically to New Square, Spring Valley, and Monsey. In mid-October, Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the commissioner of the Rockland County Department of Health, issued a letter to schools with cases of students confirmed to have measles. According to Ruppert’s announcement, any unvaccinated students in those schools must remain home until 21 days pass from the date of the last exposure in the schools.
November 2018: Month the first case of measles was reported in Orange County
On November 21, Orange County reported its first case of measles in the region. The county warns that, since the disease is highly contagious, individuals who have not yet been vaccinated should contact a primary care provider for recommendations.
157: Number of confirmed reported cases in Rockland County
As of March 29, Rockland County reports close to 160 outbreaks of measles in the area. This is an increase from the 129 cases reported at the end of January. Government officials note that, because the county is so small, outbreaks can occur anywhere and spread rapidly. At the end of November last year, the disease touched the Palisades Mall when an individual with a confirmed case visited the popular destination.
— Rockland County DOH (@rockhealth) November 28, 2018
What is measles?
According to the Rockland County Government, measles is “a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people.” As one of the most contagious diseases on the planet, it takes approximately seven to 14 days to appear following infection. After the incubation period, the disease mimics cold symptoms with the possibility of high fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention warns just how infective the disease can be.
“Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people closest to that person who are not immune will also become infected,” the site declares.
After the cold symptoms settle in, tiny white spots inside the mouth may develop. Then a rash, which appears as flat red spots across the body, covers the skin. It remains for a few days before finally subsiding.
Prevention and treatment
Rockland County Department of Health advises any individuals who have been exposed to or who have symptoms that appear in line with measles to contact their health care provider. Any individuals who have not received the MMR vaccination and who want to protect against measles can ask about receiving a first dose of the two-dose vaccination treatment.