Two new confirmed cases of measles in New York City pushes the total to 26 in the Big Apple and one doctor says the outbreak could be caused by parents skipping the vaccine.
“This is a growing problem,” said Minu George, MD, interim chief of the division of general pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, part of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. “We try very hard to educate our parents that the vaccine is very important.”
Vaccination against measles is typically given at age 1 and then again at age 4.
Measles symptoms include fever, a rash, red eyes, runny nose and can take more than a week to appear. It’s spread from person-to-person, usually by airborne droplets from a sneeze or cough or from direct contact from touching contaminated surfaces. The virus can lead to lead to health risks such as pneumonia, meningitis, and even death.
“One in 3 patients out of a 1,000 can develop severe complications from the measles virus, especially those who are immunocompromised and children under the age of 5,” said Dr. George.
A growing number of outspoken anti-vaccine celebrity parents such as Jenny McCarthy, Kristin Cavallari and Alicia Silverstone aren’t helping matters.
While measles outbreaks, like the 26 cases confirmed by the New York City Department of Health, were virtually unheard of a few years ago, they are on the rise again due to parents’ fears over presumed vaccine risks, Dr. George said.
“The vaccine is very safe. I often tell parents that I would never give anything to their child that I haven’t given to my own,” she said. “My children are fully vaccinated.”