Health officials are investigating a measles outbreak in Manhattan and the Bronx after nine children and seven adults have tested positive for the highly contagious virus.
Authorities are working to identify the source of the outbreak, and are urging vaccinations for those who haven't had them. Some of those sickened have had to be hospitalized.
Cases have been identified in Inwood and Washington Heights in Manhattan, and in High Bridge, Morrisania and the Central Bronx, health officials say. The first case was reported in February.
Four of the affected children were too young to have been vaccinated; three who had been vaccinated were 13 to 15 months old and two others had not been vaccinated by parental choice, the Health Department said. The affected adults range in age from 22 to 63 years.
Measles is a viral infection characterized by a generalized rash and high fever, accompanied by cough, red eyes and runny nose, lasting five to six days. The illness typically begins with a rash on the face and then moves down the body, and may include the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
People who contract the measles virus can spread the infection for four days before developing a rash, and for four days after the rash sets in. Measles can spread easily through the air to unprotected individuals, and the Health Department is urging all New Yorkers to make sure they and their families are vaccinated.
The Health Department said it is working with city hospitals to prevent additional exposure to the virus in emergency departments. It's also asking pediatric facilities to vaccinate any children who haven't already been vaccinated. Children should normally get a second dose of the vaccine between the ages of 4 and 6, but the Health Department says those who live in the affected communities should get their second dose immediately, regardless of whether they fall within that age range.
News of the outbreak comes less than a month after officials reported shoppers at the Palisades Center Mall in Rockland County may have been exposed to the virus after one shopper tested positive for it.
As many as one in three people with measles develop complications, which can be serious and may include pneumonia, miscarriage, brain inflammation, hospitalization and death. Infants, people who have a weakened immune system and non-immune pregnant women are at highest risk of severe illness and complications.