We all know that flu season is set to rear its ugly head in New York City, but is a measles outbreak on deck for the city as well?
As of last week, six children from Brooklyn were infected with measles, a highly contagious virus that counts high fever, cough and rashes among its many symptoms.
The cases appear to be primarily contained to children ranging from 11-months-old to 4-years-old within a portion of Willamsburg’s Orthodox Jewish community, The New York Times reported Monday.
“We know that the main child who was affected was a child who was unvaccinated and traveled to an area in Israel that was undergoing a measles outbreak,” Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot told the Times. “The problem is that we still have folks who refuse to get their children vaccinated, and that has consequences.”
The Health Department recommends the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella for all New York City children at age 12 months, with a second dose given between ages 4 and 6.
“Two doses of MMR vaccine are required to attend kindergarten through grade 12,” the department wrote on its website. “All persons, including infants aged 6- to 11-months, should be vaccinated prior to international travel.”
The Health Department said last week there are seven confirmed people with measles in New York state. Five acquired the virus while traveling to Israel, and two were infected after being exposed to someone with the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 137 individual confirmed cases of measles in 24 states, including New York, as of Sept. 8.
What consists of a measles outbreak?
According to the CDC, a measles outbreak consists of three or more linked cases. There have been 11 outbreaks reported in 2018 so far, according to the agency’s site, which was last updated on Sept. 26.
Measles symptoms typically appear about seven to 14 days after someone becomes infected, the CDC said.
The virus usually begins with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes, while tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth within two or three days.
After measles symptoms begin, a rash breaks out within three to five days, usually starting on the face near the hairline before spreading downward. They may join together as they spread and can be accompanied by small raised bumps and a high fever of 104 degrees or more.
The fever and rash will subside “after a few days,” the CDC said.
Ear infections and diarrhea are among the common complications associated with a measles outbreak, while pneumonia and encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, are among the more severe.
If you think you’ve been exposed to a measles outbreak, you should immediately call your doctor before going to their office so as not to spread the infection.
To find a clinic near you offering measles vaccines, call 311.