Measles: Perhaps coming to a neighborhood near you

148559465Last week, the New York City Department of Health announced that it is investigating an outbreak of measles in northern Manhattan and the Bronx. By March 7, the NYC DOH had identified 16 cases seven adults and nine pediatric cases. According to a story on the Daily Beast, other large metropolitan areas, Boston for example, have seen similar occurrences.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is spread by airborne droplets. People with the disease are contagious for several days before and after the characteristic diffuse skin rash develops. Besides the rash, a sufferer can have high fevers, cough, red eyes and a runny nose. The rash typically occurs first on the face, then spreads down the body. Although the rash is the most obvious symptom, the measles virus can have much more serious effects. Approximately one in three people with measles develop serious complications such as pneumonia, miscarriage, brain inflammation, and even death.

What should you do? Be sure you and those you re close to get vaccinated.

According to the NYC DOH, babies should receive the MMR (measles mumps rubella) vaccine at 12 months of age, and two doses are required for full protection the second one is usually given at 4 to 6 years of age. The vaccine is very effective.

As we have noted in the past, vaccines are truly a public health miracle; not one to be avoided by anyone.

Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, ACSH president emphasized, There is no good reason for anyone in the United States to suffer from measles or indeed any other vaccine-preventable disease. We have access to these highly effective and safe preventive tools and we should all be using them.