11 cases of measles in Brooklyn

July 2, 2009 2:54:10 PM PDT
The health department has identified 11 cases of measles in Brooklyn during the past two months and is urging doctors to be vigilant and promptly report suspected cases to the agency. Nearly all the known cases have occurred in children who went unvaccinated, leaving them unprotected against the disease. Measles is not common in New York City, but it is highly contagious.

"Children should be vaccinated against measles at 1 year of age," said Dr. Jane R. Zucker, the health department's assistant commissioner for immunization. "Vaccinating eligible children will protect them and help protect infants who are too young to be vaccinated, by reducing their risk of exposure. Delaying a child's vaccination increases the risk of contracting measles and infecting others."

Measles causes fever, rash, cough, runny nose and red eyes. As many as one in three children with measles develop complications such as diarrhea, ear infection or pneumonia. Some children have to be hospitalized, and some can even die. Younger children, and those with weakened immune systems, are the most likely to suffer severe illness.

People who contract the measles virus can spread the infection for five days before developing a rash, and for four days after the rash sets in.

Measles vaccination is required for admission to the city's schools, colleges and daycare centers. The first measles vaccine dose should be given at the time of the child's first birthday, with the second dose being administered at 4 to 6 years of age. In New York City, approximately 92 percent of children between the ages of 19 and 35 months have received a measles vaccine.

Measles is an acute viral illness characterized by a fever (101 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit), cough, red eyes, runny nose and conjunctivitis. The illness typically lasts five to six days, with a rash that begins on the face and then moves down the body, including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Complications from measles can include diarrhea and pneumonia, particularly in young children.

To protect yourself and your family from measles:

  • Babies should receive the first measles shot at 1 year of age
  • Vaccinating older kids is the best way to protect children who are too young to get the shot
  • If your child is over 1 year of age and has not had the measles shot, it is important to get the child vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent measles
  • Two doses of measles vaccine are required for life-long protection. Children should get a second measles shot at 4 to 6 years of age
  • Older children and adults who have not received two measles shots (or had the disease itself) may be at risk of infection
  • Be sure that you and your family are fully vaccinated prior to international travel. Measles is found in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

    Ask you doctor about vaccinating your children. You can also call 311 to find out where your child can be vaccinated. For more information on Measles, please visit the health department's Web site at NYC.gov.