Measels Outbreak Centered in Un-Vaccinated Williamsburg Community

(courtesy of Nick Youngson)

The highly contagious measles virus, which was eradicated two decades ago in the U.S. with an effective vaccine, has returned with a surge of 90 diagnoses (mostly children) in Brooklyn, with most of the confirmed cases centered in the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, where 15 people were diagnosed since last October. There were 349 confirmed cases of measles in the U.S. in 2018, according to the CDC.

Since October 2018, approximately 225 New Yorkers have contracted measles, tracing back to a traveler to Israel, according to the NY Times.

According to the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene:

As of February 19, 2019, there have been 90 confirmed cases of measles in Brooklyn since October. Most of these cases have involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The initial child with measles was unvaccinated and acquired measles on a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak of the disease is occurring. Since then, there have been additional children from Brooklyn who were unvaccinated and acquired measles while in Israel. Children who did not travel were also infected in Brooklyn or Rockland County.

The neighborhoods that are affected include:

Bensonhurst: 1 confirmed measles case (no new cases since November 2018)
Borough Park: 41 confirmed measles cases (2 new cases in the past week)
Midwood/Marine Park: 1 confirmed measles case (no new cases since November 2018)
Williamsburg: 47 confirmed measles cases (15 new cases in the past week)
If you plan to travel to Israel, protect yourself and your family against measles and get vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine at least two weeks in advance of your trip. If you have traveled to Israel and you have a fever, cough, red eyes, runny nose and body rash, contact your doctor. You should call your doctor before going to their office to prevent exposing other people to measles.

The measles virus can live for two hours in rooms lacking ventilation and is spread through casual contact. Symptoms include a rash that can spread across the body along with white spots in the mouth, high fever, runny sinus, and a cough. A 95 percent immunization rate is ideal to shield the general population, but immunization rates are as low as 60 percent in New York regions according to the NY Times.

Measles cases by year (courtesy of the CDC)

For perspective,  a worse outbreak occurred in 2014 when 667 measles cases were reported, with nearly 400 cases in an un-vaccinated Amish community in Ohio.

Children should have their first dose of the measles vaccine by one year of age and a second dose between the ages of four to six. According to the city:

All children enrolled in pre-kindergarten, nursery school, daycare programs, and Head Start are required to receive one dose of the measles vaccine. Children enrolled in grades K through 12 and college students must have two doses of measles vaccine. Health care workers are required to receive two doses of a measles-containing vaccine, or have a blood test showing that they are immune.

In December 2018, the City Health Department began cracking down on un-vaccinated schoolchildren, banning children from school until they receive proper shots.

 

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