8 Unvaccinated Children Diagnosed With Measles In Westchester

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Eight children have been diagnosed with measles in Westchester County.

Health officials say the children range in age from six months to 14-years-old. Six of them are siblings.

County Executive George Latimer said the situation is being closely monitored by the Westchester Health Department and there is no crisis or stringent action being taken as of yet.

According to Latimer, none of the children attend public schools or childcare programs.

The Health Department confirmed the children were not vaccinated and may have been exposed to measles in Rockland County or Brooklyn, where there are ongoing outbreaks.

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The news comes one day after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency and ordered mandatory vaccination in part of the Williamsburg neighborhood.

The county is working with the families and healthcare providers to identify location where the children may have exposed others to the disease.

Westchester's Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler is urging parents of unvaccinated children to make it a priority for their kids to receive the MMR vaccine, which covers measles, mumps and rubella. 

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“With the increasing number of measles cases in our surrounding area, I strongly urge all parents who have not vaccinated their children against measles to reconsider. Measles is highly contagious, and nine out of 10 people who are not immune and are exposed to measles will become infected,” Amler said. “People can spread measles before they even know they are sick. People without immunity can catch measles just by being in a room for up to two hours after a person with measles has left. Measles can be a serious infection which can result in pneumonia, swelling of the brain, hearing loss and death.”

Measles is a highly-contagious, airborne virus that easily spreads through coughing and sneezing. The virus can live for up to two hours in the air or on surfaces. It causes fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat, followed by a rash.

Amler notes that anyone who has signs or symptoms of measles should not go directly to a healthcare facility, doctor’s office or emergency room without advanced notice.

“Measles is airborne,” she explained. “It lasts in the air for hours after that person leaves the room.”

She says anyone who may be sickened should call a doctor first before taking action. Free vaccinations are available at Westchester County’s health clinics.

No deaths have been reported so far, but measles can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis.