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.