NEW SQUARE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The New York City Health Department was on high alert Wednesday after at least 17 people tested positive for measles in the Tri-State area.
On Wednesday, Rockland County health officials said there were 11 confirmed and three suspected cases being investigated involving a mix of adults and children.
Rockland County Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said children who have had their first MMR vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella before 15 months don’t need to wait until age 4 for their second MMR as is typical. Children can get it as soon as 28 days after first shot, and parents should to talk to pediatricians.
A synagogue, a yeshiva and a health center in the Hasidic village of New Square are all listed as places visited by someone sick with measles, putting others at risk. The virus lives for about two hours after an infected person contaminates the air or a surface by coughing or sneezing.
Health officials have said anyone at the following locations in Rockland, Westchester and Bergen counties may have been exposed to the measles:
- Congregation Bais Elazer in Monsey, N.Y. on Oct. 4
- Mia’s Reflexology in New City, N.Y. on Oct. 4
- Lifetime Gym in Montvale, N.J. on Oct. 5
- Wesley Kosher in Monsey N.Y. on Oct. 5
- Congregation Borov in Monsey, N.Y. on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6
- Costco in Nanuet, N.Y. on Oct. 7
- Care 365 in Monsey, N.Y. on Oct. 8
- Westchester Medical Center’s Emergency Room in Valhalla, N.Y. on Oct. 11
“People are very scared about it. They are trying to the best what they can,” one man said. “If there’s any problem they’re taking now precautions. They are taking in the community strong precautions and I think it’s at a good level.”
Similarly, the New York City Department of Health warned the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn after six children contracted the disease this month.
City officials say those diagnosed are between 11-months and four-years-old. Two of them were hospitalized with complications from pneumonia and an ear infection.
Officials say one of the children visited Israel. Gary Schlesinger of Parcare Community Health Network says he’s now getting calls from worried parents.
“They’re basically calling to check on records to make sure they’re compliant with all the vaccinations recommended by government,” he said.
The so-called “MMR” vaccine is very effective — and the vast majority of Americans are immunized as children. Rockland County is urging those who’ve not received the vaccine to do so.
“Even adults can be vaccinated. They have to take two doses of MMR vaccine, which is about 28 days apart,” said Dr. Rebecca Varghese, medical director at Lifeline Urgent Care.
The city says six of the children infected had not been vaccinated. The sixth had one dose, but was not yet immune.
City health officials will be handing out informational fliers in the neighborhood, and will be meeting with rabbis and elected officials to help spread awareness. In Rockland County, officials will offer a measles vaccine clinic on Thursday in Monsey and on Friday in Nanuet.
The classic symptoms of the measles include an unpleasant red rash, fever, runny nose, red eyes, sensitivity to light and coughing. The virus can live up to two hours on a surface.