A young child sits on his mom’s lap while being vaccinated against childhood illnesses. (Public domain via rawpixel)

Measles Case In Nassau Renews Calls For Vaccination, Education

In late March, a young child who presented with symptoms at a Nassau County emergency room was confirmed to have measles, prompting renewed attention to the childhood illness as well as calls from local medical authorities to vaccinate against such illnesses.

The child, who is under the age of five and is said to be doing well, visited the Cohen Children’s Medical Center Emergency Department in New Hyde Park from the evening of March 20 through the afternoon of March 21.

Once measles was confirmed by a state lab in Albany, Cohen Children’s Medical Center and public officials notified patients and the public about possible exposure during that window to the airborne, highly contagious virus.

Measles, a serious and sometimes life-threatening illness caused by the measles virus, presents symptoms such as rash, cough, and fever, and is known to significantly depress the immune system (i.e. the ability to fight off other illnesses or infections) for up to a few years afterward.

“We’re continuing to investigate this case history in partnership with Nassau County health officials who have also begun contact tracing. The measles cases we are seeing in New York, around the country, and around the world, are a clear indication that our immunization rates are at a dangerously low level,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald in a statement.

“Our message is clear: if your child has not been immunized for measles with a two-dose Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine, also known as MMR, as the state’s doctor I strongly urge you to do so immediately.”

According to New York State’s Department of Health, the young patient had not been vaccinated against measles, and didn’t seem to have travelled out of the country, meaning the child would have contracted the measles virus stateside.

The agency also said that this is the third recorded case this year in New York state of measles, adding to a national count that is on track to be higher than the few dozen recorded U.S. cases last year; as of now, thankfully, that’s nowhere near the more than 1200 cases recorded in 2019 across 31 states, according to federal data. In 2024 so far, measles has popped up in 17 states around the country.

On March 18, the Centers for Disease Control issued a health advisory stating, “Ensure children in the United States and those traveling internationally 6 months and older are current on MMR vaccination,” it read, noting an increase both in the U.S. and globally.

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