In response to an outbreak of measles, authorities in Rockland County, New York, declared a countywide state of emergency on Tuesday. The proclamation bans anyone that is under the age of 18 — and is not vaccinated against the illness — from public places.
The ban will become effective at midnight on Wednesday, and will continue for 30 days. Unvaccinated minors may avoid the ban by being inoculated against measles, mumps, and rubella, NBC reported.
As of Tuesday morning, 151 confirmed cases of the highly-contagious disease have been reported. The outbreak has also affected residents of Spring Valley, New Square, and Monsey. CBS New York reported that because the county is so small, exposure to the disease could occur in just about any public place.
Health officials advised anyone who is sick with a rash, fever, or red, watery eyes to avoid any contact with the public. Furthermore, the Rockland Health Department also encouraged anyone with these symptoms to contact their physician — or a local clinic — before visiting, in order to prevent exposing others to the the illness.
Rockland County authorities also urged citizens to be current with their MMR vaccinations, to help control the spread of the disease. The Rockland Health Department is reportedly working with officials to offer free vaccines to help curb the spread of the illness.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day is scheduled to give a press conference at 2 p.m. He will be joined by Sheriff Louis Falco, County Attorney Thomas Humbach, and local health professionals, according to WLNY.
Measles outbreaks have been occurring in New York since October of last year. This particular outbreak has infected more individuals — and has lasted longer — than any other outbreak, according to ABC News. The majority of reported cases appear to be among children of Orthodox Jewish families. Incidentally, the vaccination rate among those families is below 95 percent.
MORE: Anyone under 18 who has not yet been vaccinated will be barred from public places until they receive the MMR vaccine or until the emergency declaration expires in 30 days. https://t.co/6h48THA3z8
— ABC News (@ABC) March 26, 2019
Measles is one of the most contagious diseases on earth, according to the Rockland County website. It is airborne, spread through coughing and sneezing, but individuals can catch it just by being in the same room with an infected person. Individuals with compromised immune systems — such as the young, the elderly, and pregnant women — are particularly vulnerable to the illness.
Symptoms of the disease include high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. This is typically followed by small white spots that appear in the mouth. Usually within a week, a rash will develop and will cover most of the body. Serious complications include pneumonia and brain swelling. While not common, death can result from the disease.