Measles alert


Photo by Mike Blyth

A case of measles was confirmed last week in a student at the Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in New Paltz. Dutchess County’s health department immediately advised anyone who has visited this school since Sept. 10 or has had any contact with anyone from the school to immediately make sure that they were up-to-date with their measles vaccinations. On Monday, Sept. 24, Ulster County’s health department posted the same news on its website, with the name of the school omitted. As of Monday, it is believed that no other cases have been confirmed.

In his press release, Dutchess Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Caldwell said that his department had been in close communication with medical providers, with the health department in Ulster County, and with the state health department. Ulster County Health Commissioner Dr. Carol Smith said that her department had in fact initiated the investigation, immediately dispatching two public health nurses to New Paltz to begin to focus on the possible problem. Last Wednesday morning, she said, the county health department sent a blood specimen from the child in question to the state health department lab in Albany, where a confirmation of measles was made a few hours later.

Smith said the state sent out a fax blast Wednesday afternoon notifying all medical providers in the region of the situation. All medical practices and laboratories in the area were advised there may be a number of other children and families who have been exposed and could be communicable.

The students, teachers and staff at the school were questioned as well as other people who had contact with the affected child. “There’s a protocol for handling these cases quickly and respectfully,” explained Dr. Smith.

The Dutchess health department, which said it had also issued a health alert to its medical community, said that a number of students at this school were not vaccinated and may become ill. That means other children and families might be at risk for contracting measles.

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