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Responding to New York’s Measles Epidemic

New York is experiencing its worst measles epidemic in decades. Measles is highly contagious and easily transmitted. In their clinical practice, dentists should handle the measles outbreak like any other highly infectious disease. The dentist’s primary responsibility is to make sensible clinical decisions for patients in all situations.

 Every dentist should be following current infection control protocols in their offices, including proper sterilization of instruments and surfaces and use of personal protective wear. Nonetheless, patients presenting with a fever may be poor candidates for non-emergency treatment until medically cleared by their physicians. If a patient has an emergency where it does not make sense to delay treatment, the emergency may contraindicate the need for medical clearance. The dentist’s emphasis should remain facilitating patient treatment, not “refusal to treat certain patients”.

 Information about measles and the measles vaccine is available on the New York State Measles Hotline at 888-364-4837 and the DOH website: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2170/

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