BOROUGH PARK/WILLIAMSBURG – NYC Department of Health reports that the number of measles cases has risen to 17, up from 7 last week, and that the highly infectious disease has spread from the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg to Borough Park.
The children affected range in age from 7 months to 4 years. The first case was a child who returned with measles from a trip to Israel, where there has been a large outbreak this year.
“In addition to the large outbreak currently going on in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel, there are large outbreaks in Europe, with over 41,000 cases of measles and 40 deaths reported in 2018”, DOH said.
“Countries most affected include Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, Greece, Romania, Italy, France, Slovakia, Russia and the United Kingdom, although all countries in Europe have reported cases. There are also outbreaks in many other parts of the world, including countries in Asia, South America and Africa.”
In Brooklyn, the infectious disease spread in school settings among children who were unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated, the Department of Health says, adding that while there have been no deaths, some children have been hospitalized due to complications.
While there has been an increase in vaccination rates in the Orthodox Jewish communities since the Health Department announced the outbreak, many more children should receive the MMR vaccine to stop measles transmission, DOH says.
“The increase in measles cases in Orthodox Jewish communities of Brooklyn demonstrates the importance of getting children vaccinated on time to prevent measles and not put other children at risk,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “The Health Department continues to strongly recommend unvaccinated individuals to get vaccinated now, especially before traveling internationally. If your child develops a rash or fever, contact your physician immediately and keep them home from school or child care.” “Vaccinating children is one of the most basic ways a parent can protect their child’s health,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch. “These new cases of measles out breaking within the Orthodox community are worrisome, particularly for parents of children too young to be fully vaccinated against the measles. I urge parents who are traveling with young children to follow Health Department recommendations and vaccinate their kids. I thank the Health Department for their efforts to do outreach and spread the word to ensure New York families are protected.”
“It says in the Torah “V’nishmartem Meod L’nafshoseichem”, that a person must guard their health,” said Rabbi David Niederman, President of the UJO of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn. “It is abundantly clear on the necessity for parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated, especially from Measles.”
“As the measles outbreak continues to spread relentlessly,” said Rabbi Avi Greenstein, Executive Director of the Boro Park Jewish Community Council, “it is imperative that every member of our community protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated. It is equally imperative to understand that prevention is key. As such, we need to take away the lesson of how important it is for every one of us to avail ourselves of modern medicine and not to trust in herd immunity, but rather to follow the vaccination schedule recommended by medical professionals to protect our families and our entire community.”
The Health Department recommends :
- The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for children at age 12 months, with a second dose at 4 to 6 years old.
- Two doses of MMR are required to attend kindergarten through grade 12.
- Children attending daycare, nursery school, Head Start and pre-K are required to have one dose of MMR vaccine.
- All persons, including infants ages 6 to 11 months should be vaccinated prior to international travel.
- Parents should keep ill children at home and not send them to daycare or school.
City says that if there is measles in a student, all unvaccinated children – including those with a medical or religious exemption – will be excluded and unable to attend the daycare or school for 21 days after their last exposure.
What is measles?
Measles is a highly contagious disease that is most dangerous for young children, those with compromised immune systems, and non-immune pregnant women. It is transmitted by airborne particles (like sneezing), droplets, and direct contact with the respiratory secretions of an infected person.
The illness typically has a fever and a rash that starts on the face, and spreads down the infected person’s body, and lasts several days. However, individuals that develop the rash are contagious four days before and four days after the telltale rash appears.
If you think you were exposed to measles, DOH recommends you call your doctor before showing up at their office to prevent spreading the disease. Most of all – make sure you and those around you are vaccinated.