Measles has been eradicated from much of the world but an outbreak in Monsey Friday, the third in as many years, indicates that a small minority of people who refuse to vaccinate their children can still cause health scares.
Officials in Rockland County warned whoever was inside the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack last Sunday, Feb. 2, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. should make sure their immunizations are up to date since they may have been exposed to a person with the highly contagious disease.
The Rockland County Department of Health is urging expectant women, children 6 months or younger, immune-compromised people and those who have not been vaccinated who visited the mall — specifically the Best Buy and AT&T stores on the first floor — to contact a doctor immediately.
“Individuals are not at risk of contracting measles if they are immune,” the statement noted.
Measles is an extremely infectious disease spread by coughing, sneezing or personal contact. It causes a fever, cough and a rash on the body. Most people who contract the disease recover, but it can be fatal.
Measles was declared to have been eradicated from the United States in 2000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, a small group of people who exercise their right not to vaccinate — either because they fear that it causes autism or on religious grounds — are thought to be responsible for limited outbreaks.
In 2010, 2011, 2013 and again this year, the CDC has said in health warnings that some densely populated neighborhoods in our community are where the virus has reared its head.
The claim that it causes autism is based on a British study, which was subsequently repudiated as based on fraud. Although the author has since been banned from practicing medicine in the United Kingdom, he has a devoted following spinning conspiracy theories on the web.
A measles outbreak last year sickened 58 people, all of whom were not vaccinated, resulting in one case of pneumonia and two hospitalizations.