There were 19 recent confirmed cases of measles in Sullivan County, but health officials are being praised for avoiding another massive measles outbreak.

Sullivan County’s Public Health Services and partners were honored by the NYS Department of Health after what's described as a successful conclusion of a massive, coordinated effort to avoid a local measles outbreak similar to what the region and New York City faced this summer.

“Sullivan County ultimately confirmed 19 cases of measles, and most of those cases were individuals who hadn’t been vaccinated against the disease,” Loretta A. Santilli, Director of the NYS Department of Health’s Office of Public Health Practice said in a visit to Public Health Services on November 25. “We’re here today to recognize the heroic, compassionate and unstinting work of Sullivan County Public Health officials, Public Health Director Nancy McGraw and her remarkable team, who reached out to the community, engaged them and educated them to stop one of the world’s most contagious diseases from spreading.”

Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease that can be spread through the air by coughing or sneezing. In rare cases, it can be deadly.

“The potential crisis of a large measles outbreak at the height of Sullivan County’s busy summer season was not lost on us, and I am proud to say that County employees once again delivered top-tier service to both local residents and visitors this past summer,” said Deputy County Manager John Liddle, who served as Incident Commander in the measles response. “The safety and health of everyone in the County remained our utmost priority, and I am pleased to join the State in affirming we preserved public health and safety.”

In the fall, a Putnam County resident exposed a number of local sites, including a church, to measles.

Last October, a measles outbreak started in Rockland County, which ended last month with 312 confirmed cases.

In October 2018, it was reported an international traveler with measles visited multiple locations in Rockland and Westchester counties. Among the locations infected with measles was the Costco in Nanuet and Westchester Medical Center.

The Rockland County measles outbreak spread into Orange County in November. Health officials in Orange County later warned that a taxi was exposed to measles. 

Measles later spread to Sullivan County.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people. People first develop a fever, then often a cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by an appearance of a rash. People are considered infectious four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash.

Symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis or a runny nose. Symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as seven days and as late as 21 days after exposure.

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