BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Measles may be spreading closer to western New York. There is now a confirmed case in Niagara Falls, Ontario. It’s the first case of measles in that area since 1996. The woman, who is in her twenties, was not vaccinated against the virus.
In Erie County, health officials stress the importance of getting vaccinated. They also recommend checking with your doctor to see if you have been vaccinated for measles.
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said, “A measles outbreak could happen here. Just as it could happen anywhere in the United States where people are not immunized.”
Burstein said, “This measles outbreak is not a problem with the measles vaccine not working, this is a problem with the measles vaccine not being used.”
The measles starts with common cold symptoms and leads to a red rash. Ninety percent of people who make contact with an infected person will get the disease. One out of 10 people have permanent hearing loss, one out of 1,000 infected have brain damage, one out of about 2,000 die from the disease.
“Measles is a respiratory particle transmitted illness where even when someone is coughing or even breathing or speaking could release infected particles into the air,” said Dr. Shamim Islam, Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.
Doctors blame misinformation online and celebrities for pushing people not to vaccinate their kids.
Chief Medical Officer at Women and Children’s Hospital Dr. Stephen Turkovich said, “Anything that is going to instill any fear into caring for your child is a very powerful motivator.”
With February school break around the corner, health officials want to urge families to check their vaccination records before traveling out of the state or out of the country.
Turkovich said, “Hopefully elevate the noise so that we can tap down some of that fear and really talk about the facts associated with vaccines.”
There are more than 100 measles cases in 14 states. Most of those cases are connected to a measles outbreak at Disneyland, in California.
There hasn’t been a measles case in Erie County in five years. Friday, New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan will introduce legislation to help stop the spread of measles. Ryan wants to link vaccinations to the deduction parents receive for a child on New York State taxes.