Statement from Westchester County Department of Health as of 9:18am, May 5, 2015 Found Below.
YONKERS, NY – May 5, 2015 – “On April 22, the Westchester County Health Department was notified that a Yonkers Firefighter had exhibited symptoms suggesting he had contracted Mumps. “That Firefighter has since recovered,” wrote Christina Gilmartin, Communications Director for Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano.
When Yonkers Tribune reached out to Caren Halbfinger, Public Affairs Director for Westchester County Health Department this past Friday, May 1, 2015, Halbfinger advised she was unaware of anyone having come down with a case of Mumps and that there were no such cases in Westchester, questioning my credentials or my medical knowledge and concern.
Halbfingers’ respone to the Yonkers Tribune on Monday, May 4, 2015 was to ask, “Do you have any further questions I can help with?” An interesting response to my verbal inquiry of her which was to substantiate whether a case of Mumps had been diagnosed and to which she has not responded. Halbfinger had inquired of Gilmartin, and even though I had attempted to reach Gilmartin last week days prior to reaching out to Halfinger, it was Gilmartin that decided to respond, becoming a surrogate for Halbfinger, as if the Communications Director for the City of Yonkers was taking the lead on an issue that one would expect to be the exclusive purview of the Westchester Department of Health. Then again, at issue is not the subterfuge between the “so-called” good offices they oversee, but rather the health and welfare of society at large.
People may wish to refer to the Center for Disease Control’s definition of Mumps in “Fast Facts About Mumps” delineated toward the bottom of this article.
Gilmartin writes, “Once the county was notified, “denied outright by Halbfinger, “the health department worked with the Yonkers Fire Department’s employee health provider, St. John’s-Riverside, to identify all the close contacts of the firefighter.” No proof of such an undertaking has been divulged other than claiming it did. Conintuing, Gilmartin states, “The employee health provider (St. John’s – Riverside) is working to verify the immunity of all the close contacts. Any close contacts who cannot document that they had at least one dose of MMR vaccine are being tested to determine whether they are immune to mumps. Anyone who is not immune was offered the MMR vaccine.” The testing goes to ascertain whether the antibodies to the MMR vaccine are active.
Many Yonkers Firefighters are in fear that they may catch the Mumps and that the contagious disease will be spread among fellow Firefighters, may be brought home by them to their spouses, children, and other family members, and the public at large. Most Firefighters are unaware of the “one case” diagnosed as a case of Mumps. Barry McGoey, I.A.F.F. – Local 628 President denies knowledge of any cases of Mumps having been diagnosed, though he was forthcoming earlier last week that there was a case that was judged to be suspicious. McGoey was still awaiting the test results which should have been concluded within hours, if not days after the first individual exhibited symptoms.
Gilmartin professes, “This was an isolated case and there are no other related cases. This case did not pose a public health threat. The case has been contained and all those in contact with the individual have been working with the health dept.”
The reality is that while the person exhibiting symptoms may have recovered, the initial host, the person from whom the Firefighter caught the infection is unknown.
At issue is whether Yonkers City Hall and the Westchester County Department of Health have been forthright with society at large. Yonkers Tribune suggests most vociferously that have not. Both The City of Yonkers and Westchester County Department of Health chose to maintain silence over the issue. It could have been handled much better.
First, Yonkers City Hall, Westchester Department of Health, and St. John’s-Riverside were and to this day remain delinquent in advising people of what symptoms they must be watchful of, to seek medical attention should those symptoms reveal themselves, and what if any preventative measure may be taken to best prevent suffering potential harmful effects of the Mumps if one gets infected.
Secondly, since by law, every child attending school must be vaccinated, have the schools adhered to the protocol? Note also that some people, even when vaccinated do not maintain their immunity.
And thirdly, once diagnosed is there a prophylactic(s) that will speed recovery and lessen the chances of adverse reaction to being infected with the Mumps.
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Statement by Caren Halbfinger, Westchester County Department of Health
“Hezi, I highly doubt that Christina Gilmartin had access to or shared privileged medical information, such as that you described below. It is more likely that you received that information from another source. I neither have access to nor would share such information and cannot comment on the veracity of the details you gave below. I would strongly caution you against using any of that information in a news article, as it appears to violate HIPPA regulations.
“In addition, the facts are not terribly newsworthy. Here they are:
“On April 22, the Westchester County Health Department was notified that a Yonkers firefighter had mumps. That firefighter has since recovered. This was an isolated case and there are no other related cases.
“Once we were notified, the health department worked with the Yonkers Fire Department’s employee health provider, St. John’s-Riverside, to identify all the close contacts of the firefighter. The employee health provider is working to verify the immunity of all the close contacts. Any close contacts who cannot document that they had at least one dose of MMR vaccine are being tested to determine whether they are immune to mumps. Anyone who is not immune was offered the MMR vaccine.
“There have been two other cases of mumps in Westchester so far this year — unrelated to this case — and there were six last year.” – Caren Halbfinger
Director, Public Affairs, Westchester County Health Department
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“Fast Facts About Mumps” as defined by the Center for Disease Control
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw on one or both sides of the face (parotitis)
The MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine is the best way to prevent mumps. The MMR vaccine should be routinely given when children are 12-15 months old, and a second dose should be given when they are 4-6 years old. Two doses of the vaccine are more effective against mumps than one dose and prevent most, but not all, cases of mumps and mumps complications.
Most people with mumps recover fully. However, Mumps can occasionally cause complications, and some of them can be serious. Complications may occur even if a person does not have swollen salivary glands (parotitis) and are more common in people who have reached puberty.
Complications of Mumps can include
- Inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty, which rarely leads to sterility
- Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
- Inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breasts (mastitis) in females who have reached puberty
- Temporary or permanent deafness
Mumps is spread by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. Items used by an infected person, such as cups or soft drink cans, can also be contaminated with the virus, which may spread to others if those items are shared. In addition, the virus may spread when someone with mumps touches items or surfaces without washing their hands and someone else then touches the same surface and rubs their mouth or nose.
Most Mumps transmission likely occurs before the salivary glands begin to swell and within the 5 days after the swelling begins. Therefore, CDC recommends isolating mumps patients for 5 days after their glands begin to swell.
If you have mumps, there are several things you can do to help prevent spreading the virus to others:
- Minimize close contact with other people, especially babies and people with weakened immune systems who cannot be vaccinated.
- Stay home from work or school for 5 days after your glands begin to swell, and try not to have close contact with other people who live in your house.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put your used tissue in the trash can. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Wash hands well and often with soap, and teach children to wash their hands too.
- Don’t share drinks or eating utensils.
- Regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched (such as toys, doorknobs, tables, counters) with soap and water or with cleaning wipes.