BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The number of measles outbreaks is the highest it’s been since 1996. Governor Andrew Cuomo is issuing a plea, if you or your family members haven’t been vaccinated, it’s time to do so.
“Unfortunately so far in the United States this year, we’ve had 129 reported. 29 have been in New York State,” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. Luckily, Burstein says there haven’t been any cases of measles in Western New York, but that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be in the future. “As long as there are people who are unimmunized in a community, there’s always a population at risk,” said Burstein.
Measles is highly contagious, and ultimately can be deadly. Those who are most at risk are babies under the age of 1. “The first measles vaccine of the series isn’t given until 12-15 months of age, so all infants under the age of 12 months are not immunized,” said Burstein.
Measles symptoms usually appear 10 to 12 days after exposure. Initially a person may have a runny nose, cough, or slight fever. A few days later a red, blotchy rash will appear. Burstein says your best defense against Measles is to be vaccinated. Adding, anyone born after 1956 should have received two measles immunizations. If you don’t know if you’ve been vaccinated, there’s a way to check. “You can always get a blood test to test for the measles antibody in your blood system and if there’s no detectable antibody then you can get a booster dose.”
Burstein says there’s a reason they’re seeing an increase in cases. “There’s more vaccine refusers in the United States and where they’re seeing the highest measles incidents is in areas where they have low vaccination rates. If parents choose not to immunize their children they really place their children at risk of contracting a very serious disease that could kill them or cause serious irreversible brain damage.”
This week happens to be National Infant Immunization Week. The purpose is to remind people of the importance of vaccinating infants to protect them from preventable diseases.