Adirondack Health: No measles here so far

Hospitak monitors downstate outbreak

SARANAC LAKE — With 75 new cases of measles identified in New York City this week alone, Adirondack Health infection prevention specialists have instituted enhanced surveillance protocols to identify and mitigate any potential appearance of the disease in the Tri-Lakes region.

“While, fortunately, we have not yet seen any measles cases in the communities we serve, we must remain vigilant and prepared to respond immediately,” registered nurse Mim Millar, Adirondack Health’s infection preventionist and patient safety officer, said in a press release from the health care network. “Measles is highly contagious, with a 90% infection rate when susceptible individuals are exposed.”

Following an interdisciplinary review of regional public health data, Adirondack Health clinicians conducted a vulnerability assessment to inform patient screening policies. Health care workers will ask additional questions to identify potential measles risk in outpatient settings and have a plan in place to reduce the likelihood of transmission if the measles virus is suspected.

In addition, Adirondack Health says it strictly adheres to state Department of Health 405.3 regulations and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) recommendation for vaccines and serologic proof of preventable diseases in health care workers. As part of this, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination or proof of immunity is required for all those working in Adirondack Health facilities.

According to the CDC, measles can cause serious health complications — particularly, though not exclusively, in children younger than 5 years of age. Common symptoms include fever, rash, cough, runny nose and red eyes. The measles virus can be transmitted between susceptible individuals up to four days before and after the development of a corresponding rash.

“When it comes to the measles virus, the best defense is most definitely a good offense,” said Dr. Diana Christensen, an internal medicine physician and infectious disease specialist at Adirondack Health. “There is no substitute for MMR vaccination in early childhood, but it is better to be vaccinated late than never.”

To learn more about the measles virus, visit cdc.gov/measles or call Millar at 518-897-2705.