Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken today urged Suffolk County residents make sure they are immunized against the measles. While there is no immediate public health concern involving measles to Suffolk County, residents should check with their healthcare providers to be sure they are up to date on all immunizations.
“In light of recent reports, residents should make sure to receive their measles shots to protect themselves,” said County Executive Bellone. “While there is no immediate public health concern in Suffolk County, this should serve as a reminder to do what is necessary out of an abundance of caution.”
Dr. James Tomarken, Commissioner of Suffolk County Department of Health Services, said: “Given the recent measles outbreak in Rockland and that county’s action to ban unimmunized children from public places, it is imperative that we in Suffolk County emphasize the need for residents to make sure they and their families are protected. For most people that will mean that they and their children received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) immunization.”
Measles can cause serious health complications, especially in children younger than five years of age. While there is no way to determine in advance the severity of the symptoms one will experience, some of the more common measles symptoms include fever, rash, runny nose and red eyes. The best protection against measles is the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles. A child needs two doses of MMR vaccine for best protection: the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age; the second dose 4 through 6 years of age.
Measles is contagious and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Nine out of ten people around an individual who has measles can become infected if they are not protected. A child can contract measles just by being in the same room with someone who has contracted the illness, even up to two hours after that person has left. An infected person can also spread measles to others even before knowing he or she has the disease—from four days before developing the measles rash through four days afterward.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed cases of measles in 15 states. Additionally, measles is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Worldwide, an estimated 20 million people get measles and 146,000 people, mostly children, die from the disease each year. Every year, measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers – including Americans or foreign visitors – who contract measles while they are in other countries.
For families traveling overseas, a baby between the ages of 6 through 11 months old should receive one dose of MMR vaccine before leaving. If a child is 12 months of age or older, he or she will need two doses of MMR vaccine – separated by at least 28 days – before departure.