Medicine

Measles outbreak: City declares public health emergency with 285 confirmed cases

Measles outbreak: City declares public health emergency with 285 confirmed cases

"This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately", de Blasio said, who also assured the public that the vaccine "is safe".

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the unusual order amid what he said was a measles "crisis" in Brooklyn's Williamsburg section, where more than 250 people, mostly members of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious community, have gotten measles since September.

New York City's order applies to unvaccinated people who live, work or go to school in four ZIP codes, with some exceptions, such as for children under 6 months old. Anyone who resists could be fined up to $1,000.

The outbreak has been centered in Williamsburg's large community of Orthodox Jews. In the cases reported, about 400 to 500 people died each year. "We've seen a large increase in the number of people vaccinated in these neighborhoods, but as Passover approaches, we need to do all we can to ensure more people get the vaccine".

"Measles is a risky, potentially deadly disease that can easily be prevented with vaccine", said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. Twenty-one people have been hospitalized since the outbreak started with five people being admitted to the intensive care unit.

Although measles was declared officially eliminated from the United States in 2000, a total of 465 cases have been confirmed in 19 states from January 1 to April 4, according to the CDC.

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"I understand that parents may be afraid of getting their children vaccinated", health commissioner Barbot said.

The resurgence of the once-eradicated, highly-contagious disease is linked to a growing anti-vaccine movement in richer nations - which the World Health Organisation has identified as a major global health threat. Newborns, pregnant individuals, and those with weakened immune systems can not get vaccinated, so it is important that everyone around them be vaccinated in order to protect them from contracting the virus and prevent severe complications in these susceptible populations. It says the vaccine is 97 percent effective.

Officials also noted that Passover is approaching, meaning increased travel among people who could carry measles to or from NY.

Non-vaccinated minors were banned from public places in a bid to prevent the spread of the disease, and hundreds of people have now been vaccinated, according to authorities. Measles is easily preventable with the safe and effective MMR vaccine. The Associated Press reports that this is the largest measles outbreak in the city since 1991, and that NYC accounts for two-thirds of all cases reported in the USA last week.

Like most American states - all but three, including California - New York requires a series of vaccinations for school-age children but has until now granted exemptions on both medical and religious grounds.

"Back in the day people were having parties to expose their kids to chicken pox and measles".


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