Monroe County has confirmed its first case of measles since 2014, and only its second in the last decade.
County health department spokesperson Ryan Horey said an unvaccinated female toddler is infected with the virus, which she likely contracted on an international trip to an area that was in the midst of a measles outbreak. He said he could not be any more specific about the trip location or the toddler's identity in an effort to protect the family’s privacy.
Horey said the county does not believe this infection marks the start of an outbreak locally. “The larger public is not at risk, as the rest of the patient’s family was all vaccinated and not at risk of further spreading measles,” Horey said.
The child has been isolated from other people, and county health workers got in touch with everyone who was at Rochester Immediate Care on either of the two days the child visited that facility for treatment, said Horey.
Measles has been largely eradicated across the United States. Horey said that’s mostly due to high rates of vaccination. Only one other case of the disease had been confirmed in Monroe County since the state health department began tracking yearly numbers in 2008.
Horey said measles is a serious illness, leading in some cases to brain damage and death. The disease usually starts with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes before producing tiny white spots inside the mouth and a characteristic rash on the skin, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
“Years back – decades ago – people did die from measles in the United States,” he said. “If the rate of vaccination goes down, you put people at risk.”
The county said it’s not clear yet why this child was not vaccinated, or whether she was eligible for vaccination.
Horey said if anyone is worried about themselves or their children contracting the virus, they should check with their doctor and make sure they’ve had two doses of the MMR vaccine, which targets measles, mumps and rubella.
“That is the single most important step that you can take to prevent yourself from getting measles,” Horey said.