Goshen, N.Y. – The Orange County Health Department has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for playing an integral role in ending the nearly year-long measles outbreak in the County last month.
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.
“Our nation’s longstanding high immunization rates and the successful public health response to this outbreak is a testament to the commitment and effectiveness of local health departments such as Orange County,” said Nancy Messonnier, MD, the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease. “We look forward to our continued partnership as we work towards our common goal of protecting residents from vaccine-preventable diseases.”
The measles outbreak in Orange County began in November of last year and concluded in August. Fifty-seven residents were infected with the disease. The Health Department’s Epidemiology, Nursing and Emergency Preparedness divisions, along with Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Unit volunteers, worked diligently to respond to public inquiry, to notify health care facilities and residents, to provide education and training, and to collaborate with medical providers, schools and local stakeholders. The Health Department also increased the number and duration of offered immunization clinics, contacted susceptible individuals and conducted contact tracing investigations, while ensuring timely specimen transport in coordination with the New York State Department of Health and the CDC.
“This recognition is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Health Department’s staff,” Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman said. “We are excited that we have been recognized for our proactive public health initiatives during the measles outbreak. This news is promising, but as a community, we must remain vigilant about preventing measles and other vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks.”
Added Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus: “I’m proud of the great work that Dr. Gelman and her dedicated staff continue to perform throughout Orange County. Helping end the nearly year-long measles outbreak illustrates how dedicated they are to serving our municipalities and residents. The single best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated and we encourage all residents to stay up to date with their vaccinations.”
Gelman noted that children 12 months of age and older and adults are recommended to receive two doses of MMR vaccine, given at least 28 days apart, to be optimally protected.
For more information about measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, contact the Orange County Department of Health at (845) 291-2330.