Measles patient at Albany Medical Center may have exposed others

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) announced Thursday that a young child with measles had been admitted to Albany Medical Center, and that patients who were in certain parts of the hospital on Friday, Jan. 31 or Saturday, Feb. 1 may have been exposed. 

This case is the second confirmed in the Capital Region this week. On Tuesday, Feb. 4, the DOH reported that a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute had come down with the highly contagious disease.

In 2013, according to data from the national Centers for Disease Control, there were 189 cases of measles in the U.S., roughly triple the number of cases in 2012. It wasn't the highest number of cases since the disease was declared "eliminated" from spreading year-round in the U.S. over a decade ago -- that distinction belongs to 2011, with 220 cases -- but it was high enough to alarm CDC health officials, who noted that an outbreak with 58 cases in a Brooklyn community was the largest in the U.S. since 1996.

Most of the 189 confirmed measles cases in 2013 could be traced to people who had recently traveled out of the country, and struck people who had not been vaccinated, according to a CDC report published in September of 2013, when 159 of the year's 189 cases had been diagnosed.

In the report, CDC scientists wrote that measles imported from abroad could cause large outbreaks in areas with "pockets of unvaccinated persons." 

Below: The full text of Thursday's news release from the state DOH.

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 6, 2014) - The New York State Department of Health (DOH) reported today that measles has been confirmed in a young child who was admitted to Albany Medical Center, and exposures of members of the public may have occurred.

If you were a patient or visitor at Albany Medical Center, New York (Albany County), and have not been immunized against measles, you may be at risk for contracting the disease if you were in any of the following locations within the facility:

  • Either the C or D buildings, from 7:45 a.m. through 8 p.m. on Friday, January 31; or
  • C7 between 8 p.m. Friday, January 31 through midnight on Saturday, February 1.

Albany Medical Center is notifying patients who were in these areas during these times, and has established a hotline for individuals seeking updates and further information: 518-262-2101.

Individuals who were at any of these locations during the time frame listed above, and not immune to measles or not sure of their measles immunity, should contact their primary care physician, or the county health department where they reside.

Individuals who are not immune to measles and who become ill with rash or fever should call their medical providers and let them know of a possible measles exposure BEFORE visiting the office. This will help to prevent others at these facilities from being exposed to the illness.

Individuals are not at risk of contracting measles if they are immune. A person is considered immune if he or she has received two doses of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine OR if born before January 1, 1957, OR has a history of laboratory-confirmed measles, OR has a blood test confirming measles immunity.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus and is spread by contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people. Measles can lead to serious side effects and, in rare cases, death. Measles symptoms usually appear in 10 to 12 days, but can occur as late as 18 days after exposure. Symptoms generally appear in two stages.

In the first stage, which lasts two to four days, the individual may have a runny nose, cough and a slight fever. Eyes may become reddened and sensitive to light while the fever gradually rises each day, often peaking as high as 103° to 105° F. Small bluish white spots surrounded by a reddish area may also appear on the gums and inside of the cheeks.

The second stage begins on the third to seventh day and consists of a red blotchy rash lasting five to six days. The rash usually begins on the face and then spreads downward and outward, reaching the hands and feet. The rash fades in the same order that it appeared, from head to extremities. Although measles is usually considered a childhood disease, it can be contracted at any age.

The single best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated. Most New Yorkers have been vaccinated, but if unsure, they should check with their physician. Individuals should receive 2 doses of MMR vaccine to be protected. The first dose should be given at 12-15 months of age and the second dose is routinely given at 4 to 6 years of age, but may be given as soon as 28 days after the first dose. Anyone at any age who is not immune to measles, and has no condition that would prohibit receiving the vaccine, should receive 2 doses of MMR vaccine at least 28 days apart.

It is also important to note that travelers should be up-to-date on their vaccinations; since January 2014 there have been 6 cases of measles reported in the United States from travelers to foreign countries.