The recent outbreak of measles in New York is the highest it has been in 20 years. Since September, New York has had 167 cases reported, and it may become an epidemic.
The first reported case of measles came from Brooklyn. A child, who was unvaccinated, went to Israel on a trip. Subsequently he was infected, and brought it back to the United States. Israel is also experiencing an outbreak of the disease.
The New York Department of Health has reported that since October, there have been fifty-five reported cases to have affected children who had not been vaccinated. The cases were primarily in Orthodox, Jewish communities located in Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Williamsburg, and Midwood/Marine Park.
Since the original case, it has been reported that there have been other cases of unvaccinated children who went to Israel and became infected. These children were also from Brooklyn.
The Health Department wanted to make clear that children from Rockland County or Brooklyn, who have no history of traveling, have also come down with measles.
Since January 2, Borough Park has seen the largest number of measles cases since Oct. 2018. During that time period, 32 cases were reported. The Department of Health says Williamsburg had reported 21 cases of measles.
Bensonhurst and Midwood/Marine Park had one case each. In the past two months, no new cases have been reported.
As of January 4, Rockland County has reported that there have been 105 confirmed cases of measles.
Federal, local and state health officials are trying to stop the outbreaks. They think the reason for the increase in measles is due to anti-vaccine propaganda, schools not enforcing vaccine requirements, and a trend for families to stay away from medical care.
Private schools in New York reported only 50 percent of the students obtain vaccinations. In order to prevent a disease outbreak, 95 percent must vaccinate.
Over 13,000 people, primarily children, over the past three months have been vaccinated in county and state clinics. Over 400,000 educational flyers have been sent out to homes in high-risk areas.
More than 24 daycare centers and schools have been closed due to the number of children who were not vaccinated. Children are not permitted to attend school if they are not up to date on their vaccinations.
The only way to prevent contracting measles is vaccinating against it. The disease is contagious and more severe symptoms appear in people who have poor immune systems, pregnant women, and infants.
Symptoms of measles include fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and severe rash. If the disease is not treated, it can kill.
47 states, including New York, permit parents to refuse vaccinations for their children due to religious reasons.
No organized religion forbids a parent from vaccinating their child. Jewish law in particular states that followers of the religion must protect their health, and also the health of the community and children.
Other than obtaining an exemption due to religious beliefs, New York mandates that any child who attends school or daycare be vaccinated against measles. College students must produce documentation showing that they have been vaccinated twice prior to admission.
Ever since the measles vaccine was introduced, in 1963, to the public by United States scientist Maurice Hilleman, the rate of new cases has diminished. People are at minimal risk of contracting the disease if vaccinated. However, measles is considered one of the world’s most contagious diseases and can be life-threatening if not vaccinated.
Written By Barbara Sobel
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