Liberty, NY – In light of the ongoing measles outbreaks in New York City and Rockland County, Sullivan County is preparing for the summer months when there is a large influx of visitors and second home-owners.
As of April 11, there are 180 confirmed reported cases of measles in Rockland County. In New York City, there have been 285 confirmed cases since the outbreak began in October 2018; 21 of those cases led to hospitalizations.
Measles is extremely contagious, and about 90% of unvaccinated people exposed to the virus will become infected.
Sullivan County Public Health Services staff have been meeting with area healthcare providers, school officials, first responders and hospital staff to discuss preparations to limit the spread of measles in the coming months.
“The single most important thing we can all do to protect the community is to remain up-to-date with measles vaccination, ensure that summer camps, day cares, and schools abide by immunization requirements, and that our healthcare providers are prepared to isolate any ill patients quickly with proper infection control policies and procedures,” said Public Health Director Nancy McGraw. “A larger meeting with community leaders and healthcare providers will be held later this month.”
Two confirmed cases in Sullivan County were reported March 14, and since then, Public Health staff have been conducting investigations on several additional residents who were exposed to individuals from NYC who were positive for measles. These individuals are being monitored for symptoms.
“We ask that if you become 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,” McGraw added. “To further prevent the spread of illness, the Department is advising individuals who have symptoms consistent with measles to contact their healthcare 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.”
In particular, Sullivan County Public Health Services strongly recommends that summer camp owners and directors, visitors, parents and guardians review the vaccination status of campers, employees and children.
The single best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated. Individuals should receive 2 doses of MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine to be protected. If a person is unsure if they are immune, they should contact their healthcare provider. The first dose should be given at 12-15 months of age and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age (age of school entry).
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. If your family is traveling overseas, the vaccine recommendations are a little different, and you should discuss with your health care provider or visit www.cdc.gov/measles/about/parents-top4.html
“We have reinforced the importance for all healthcare providers to immediately report all cases of suspect measles to the Sullivan County Public Health Communicable Disease Program staff by calling (845) 292-5910 during normal business hours and after hours/weekends,” said McGraw.
Sullivan County Public Health Services offers free vaccine clinics for children who are uninsured or have Medicaid on the second Wednesday each month from 5-7 p.m. at 50 Community Lane, Gladys Olmsted Building, Liberty. No appointment is necessary.
Residents can get more information about measles by calling the Public Health Information Line at 845-513-2268 or the New York State Department of Health toll-free Measles Information Line at (888) 364-4837.