NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Health officials say a rare outbreak of measles is spreading across New York City.
The city Health Department now says 25 cases of measles have been confirmed since February, including 12 pediatric and 13 adult cases.
The illness first showed up in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, but the three most recent cases were reported on the Lower East Side.
Measles is a viral infection that can spread easily through the air. Symptoms include high fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and a rash all over the body that can last five to six days.
The illness usually begins with a rash on the face and then moves down the body and may include the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said measles in not native the U.S. It’s brought into the country either by foreigners or Americans who traveled abroad.
“I think what’s happening is the world is getting smaller,” Dr. Robert Glatter, A Lenox Hill Hospital emergency medicine physician, told CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport. “People are traveling to other parts of the world, where there are outbreaks.”
Doctors said kids who are not vaccinated are easy targets to catch and spread the disease.
“If you are a parent and you have a child who is eligible for the measles vaccine — that means they’re at least 1 year of age or older — you should make sure they get vaccinated immediately,” Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Jay Varma said.
Investigators are looking into whether some patients were exposed to measles in hospitals or doctors’ offices in the city.
“I think what we’re seeing is a pocket of infection here in New York City that has emerged, essentially from a group of patients who have been exposed,” Glatter said. “It’s not clear how.”
The Health Department says some people have in fact been exposed to measles at several different medical facilities in the city, but so far, none have gotten sick with measles as a result of that exposure.
As many as one in three people with measles develop serious complications, including pneumonia, miscarriage, brain inflammation and even death.
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