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Confirmed case of measles in Ulster County

September 21, 2012 6:59:01 PM PDT
The Department of Health announced today a confirmed case of measles in a student at the Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in New Paltz.

Anyone who has visited this school since September 10th or has had any contact with anyone from this school should immediately make sure that they are up to date with their measles vaccinations.

All medical practices and laboratories in the area should be on high alert that there may be a number of other children and families who have been exposed and could be communicable.

The Department of Health in Dutchess County says that they have learned that a number of students at this school were not vaccinated and may become ill and put other children and families at risk for contracting measles.

This highly contagious disease has increased in the United States recently due to a growing number of unvaccinated individuals who travel to countries where measles is prevalent.

Those who were born before January 1, 1957 or who have documentation they have received two MMR vaccinations are believed to be immune. All others should consider vaccination, especially if they have contact with anyone who has measles.

"While most of the population is immune, about 97% of Dutchess County residents" said Michael C. Caldwell, MD, MPH, Dutchess County Commissioner of Health, "these exposures place non-immune individuals at risk for becoming infected. Of greatest concern are infants less than 12 months of age, pregnant women, and persons who have immunocompromising conditions as they have the highest risk for severe complications."

Measles symptoms include fever, red watery eyes, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. Pregnant women who are exposed may put their baby at risk for birth defects.

Individuals who are experiencing these symptoms should call their provider prior to going to the healthcare office so precautionary methods can be taken in order to reduce the potential spread of measles.

Before measles vaccine, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. Historically, 450-500 people died each year in the United States because of measles, 48,000 were hospitalized, 7,000 had seizures, and about 1,000 suffered permanent brain damage or deafness.

Today, there are only about 50 cases a year reported in the United States, and most of these originate outside the country. Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus.

A total of 50 cases of measles have been reported in the United States to date during 2012, of which 46 were import-associated. During 2011, a total of 222 cases of measles were reported in the U.S. Most patients (86%) were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status.

"The increased numbers of outbreaks and measles importations into the United States underscore the ongoing risk for measles among unvaccinated persons and the importance of vaccination against measles," said Caldwell.

The Dutchess County Department of Health sounded the alarm to the medical community about the increased risk of measles in our community with a public health alert Thursday and Friday. "We have been in close communication with medical providers and our colleagues at the Ulster County Department of Health as well as the New York State Department of Health," said Dr. Caldwell.

For more information, please visit cdc.gov/measles or call your healthcare provider.

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