Comments on Measles Exposures in New York

What are the serious implications of a “simple” exposure to a case of measles?   An unvaccinated student with measles leaves a long trail of exposure without even realizing the impact on those around him or her.

From Pedatrics – Written by Vincent Iannelli, M.D. There has been an update on the recent report of a case of measles at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

As in many of these cases, the health department is now warning that the unvaccinated student who had a vaccine exemption may have exposed other people to measles at a number of locations in the area, including: •Samaritan Hospital Emergency Department, from 8:00 p.m. on Friday, January 31, through 3:45 a.m. on Saturday, February 1 •RPI Campus, from January 26th to January 31st •Mohonasen High School in Schenectady, NY, on January 26th from 7 a.m. through 2 p.m. at a volleyball tournament

The New York State Heath Department warns that “anyone who was at these locations during these times should contact the local (county) health department where they reside to determine if they are a candidate to receive preventive treatment.”

This is especially important if you are not sure if your child is immune to measles, which might include: •infants who are less than 12 months of age and haven’t gotten their first MMR vaccine •children who are less than 4 years of age and haven’t gotten their second MMR vaccine •children and adults who have not been fully vaccinated against measles because they had a severe allergic reaction to their first dose •children and adults who have not been vaccinated because they have a known severe immunodeficiency •children and adults who may have been fully vaccinated in the past, but now have a severe immunodeficiency, including those with cancer, with cancer and getting chemotherapy, a congenital immunodeficiency, on long term immunosuppressive therapy, or with HIV infection, etc.

A busy emergency room in the middle of cold and flu season would almost certainly have had some children who would be at risk for measles, not because their parents signed a waiver or vaccine exemption, but simply because they were too young to be fully vaccinated.

It is to protect all of these people, and to limit the size of the outbreak, that health departments go into containment mode whenever someone triggers one of these measles outbreaks. These immediate control measures cost a lot of money though. To contain just 107 of the 220 measles cases in 2011, “the corresponding total estimated costs for the public response accrued to local and state public health departments ranged from $2.7 million to $5.3 million US dollars.”

Get Educated. Get Vaccinated. Stop the Outbreaks.

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