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Health Department Investigates Measles Outbreak in Northern Manhattan, Bronx

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The New York City Department of Health is looking into a measles outbreak in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx, where 16 cases has been reported since February. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.

It begins with a rash on the face and then spreads down to the rest of the body, but that's not the worst part of the highly contagious measles virus.

"One in 1,000 people who get measles die from it," said Dr. Marguerite Mayers, an infectious disease specialist at the Children's Hospital of Montefiore.

That's why health officials are concerned about the recent outbreak. Seven adults and nine children got measles. Two were from the Bronx. The rest were from Northern Manhattan.  

"The most important thing people need to do is receive the measles vaccine. It's given as the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine," said Jane R. Zucker, assistant commissioner for the Bureau of Immunization. "Normally, a child gets their first dose of MMR vaccine at 12 months of age, and then, they'll get the second dose between 4 and 6 years of age. 

The illness is usually accompanied by a high fever, coughing, red eyes, and a runny nose, lasting about five to six days. It spreads easily through the air.  

The New York City Department of Health said that two of the children who got it this time around were not vaccinated, not because they were too young, but because their parents refused.  

"I am concerned that parents have opted not to vaccinate their children for philosophical reasons, and that may be increasing our pool of susceptibles," Mayers said.

"I've heard talks about this measles, mumps, rubella, MMR, could lead to autism and things like that, so I was a little concerned," said one parent.

Mayers said that even though the shot can be unpleasant, parents should not worry because there's been no serious consequences associated with the MMR vaccine. 

"The attribution of autism to the MMR has been disproved in many forms over the past 20 years," Mayers said.

If you're not sure whether your vaccination is up to date, health officials say that you can take a blood test or just get another shot.

For more information, visit nyc.gov or call 311.

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