With this year’s U.S. measles epidemic now surpassing a 25-year-old record, experts say it’s not clear when the wave of illnesses will subside and are calling on parents of unvaccinated children to get their kids vaccinated against the disease. (June 3) AP, AP
Five cases of measles have been confirmed within a Mennonite community in Wyoming County.
The cases ranged in age from 11 to 22, and public-health officials are working to determine whether there were additional exposures, said Wyoming County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregory Collins.
“It’s limited right now, from all the information we have, within the Mennonite community itself, and we’re working actively to identify any other contacts,” Collins said Friday.
Authorities advised people who may have experienced symptoms consistent with measles to contact the county health department or their health care provider. The county agency’s phone number is (585)786-8838.
All five of the cases were not vaccinated against the measles, Collins said, and county health officials are actively engaging the Mennonite community to discuss the importance of getting vaccinated to prevent the spread of measles.
Collins described the Mennonite community in Wyoming County as under-vaccinated, referring to the fact some people have been immunized against measles while others haven’t. He said none of the confirmed cases attend public schools.
The outbreak comes as Amish and Mennonite communities across the Finger Lakes and western New York face an arduous push to implement a new law ending religious exemptions for school vaccinations in New York.
The mobilization comes after state lawmakers passed the vaccination mandate in response to historic measles outbreaks in Rockland County and New York City, which have confirmed more than 900 cases of the highly contagious disease since last fall.
Most cases spread in Orthodox Jewish communities with low rates among children, a risk the law aims to limit by barring unvaccinated kids from schools unless they have a medical reason preventing immunization.
Similarly, many Amish and Mennonite children aren’t fully vaccinated against communicable diseases and must now get immunized to attend schools.
Collins said public-health investigators are looking into the possibility that the Wyoming County measles cases are linked to the outbreaks in Rockland or New York City.
“We’re actively researching now if there was any travel to those areas,” he said.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people, health officials said.
People first develop a fever, then may have a cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by appearance of a rash. People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash.
Symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis or runny nose. Symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as 7 days and as late as 21 days after exposure.
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