Know the Facts About the Measles

The measles virus has received a great deal of attention recently in New York City due to an infected tourist potentially exposing many residents in the five boroughs.

As the closest hospital to John F. Kennedy International Airport, where millions of foreign travelers fly in and out of each year and because we serve one the most ethnically diverse populations in the nation, Jamaica Hospital wants to provide our community with some very important information about the measles virus.

While vaccination programs have largely eliminated the measles in the United States, it is still common in other parts of the world with over 90,000 reported deaths attributed to the disease worldwide each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  In fact, most U.S. cases of the measles result from an unvaccinated international traveler exposing U.S. residents to the virus.

The measles virus is highly contagious and is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs.  Fever is typically the first symptom, followed by cough, runny nose and red eyes. Soon after, those infected will develop a rash of tiny red spots. The rash starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Symptoms usually present ten to 14 days after exposure. Those with the disease can develop even more serious complications, and it is especially dangerous for young children.

The best way to prevent becoming infected is to get the MMR vaccine, which prevents against measles, mumps and rubella. The CDC recommends children receive two doses, the first between 12 to 15 months of age, and the second at four to six years old. Teens and adults should also be up-to-date with their MMR vaccination.

The MMR vaccine is safe and highly effective. The recommended two doses have proven to be 97% effective in preventing the measles virus.  While the MMR vaccine is recommended for everyone, it is especially important for those individuals who travel internationally or are exposed to travelers from foreign countries .

If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with the measles, seek medical attention immediately, but call your doctor or local hospital before arrival to prevent infecting others.

To learn more about the MMR vaccine, or to schedule an appointment to become vaccinated at Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Asthma and Flu Season

Young woman using throat spray

Asthma is a lung disease that is caused by chronic inflammation of the airways, which can result in an asthma attack. During an attack, people experience symptoms such as wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing. Many things can trigger an asthma attack and one of the most common is the flu.

With flu season upon us, what impact can the flu have on those with asthma? According to the CDC, though people with asthma are not more likely to get the flu, an infection can be more serious for people with asthma, even if their asthma is mild or their symptoms are well-controlled by medication. An influenza infection can trigger asthma attacks and a worsening of asthma symptoms. It also can lead to pneumonia and other acute respiratory diseases. In fact, adults and children with asthma are more likely to develop pneumonia after getting sick with the flu than people who do not have asthma. Asthma is the most common medical condition among children hospitalized with the flu and one of the more common medical conditions among hospitalized adults.

If you have asthma, it is recommended that you get an annual influenza vaccine. Flu shots are generally recommended for people six months and older regardless of whether or not they have asthma. The flu shot has a long established safety record in people with asthma. In addition to getting the flu vaccine, proper hand-hygiene is strongly advised in order to prevent the spread of the flu.

If you do get sick with flu symptoms, speak with your doctor immediately to see if antiviral medications are an option for you. If prescribed, anti-viral drugs should be administered with 48 hours after the on-set of symptoms and can help minimize the effects of the flu. For people with asthma, this can help by reducing the risk of influenza from progressing into pneumonia or other respiratory diseases.

If you have asthma, and would like to receive a flu shot, please call Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001 to schedule an appointment or visit our website at www.jamaicahospital.org to find our closest MediSys Family Care Center to your home.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.