Health Department Warns Orthodox Jewish Community of Increase in Measles Cases; Urges Vaccination for All Children, Especially Before Traveling to Israel and Other Countries Experiencing Measles Outbreaks

Six individuals with measles were confirmed this month in the Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Health Department recommends the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine for all children at age 12 months, with a second dose at 4 to 6 years old; two doses of MMR vaccine are required to attend kindergarten through grade 12; all persons, including infants aged 6 to 11 months, should be vaccinated prior to international travel

Health Department increasing awareness in community; will hold a meeting with rabbis and elected officials in Williamsburg tomorrow; target ad campaigns in local newspapers; and distribute posters to health care providers in the community

October 17, 2018 — The Health Department today is reporting six individuals with confirmed measles this month in the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The initial case of measles was acquired by a child on a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak of the disease is occurring. The individuals with measles ranged in age from 11 months to 4 years. Five of these children were unvaccinated prior to exposure, including four because vaccination was delayed and one who was too young to have received the vaccine. The sixth child had received one dose of the vaccine prior to exposure but was not yet immune. Complications include one child who was hospitalized with pneumonia and another child with an ear infection. Additionally, there are seven confirmed individuals with measles among New York State residents outside of New York City – five acquired measles during travel to Israel, and two are individuals infected after an exposure to a person with measles. To increase awareness about measles, the Health Department will hold a meeting in Williamsburg with rabbis and elected officials tomorrow, place ads in local newspapers and distribute posters to health care providers.

“Although measles is preventable, too many families are choosing to not vaccinate or delay vaccination, putting their children and other children at risk” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “It is also important to make sure the entire family is protected before traveling internationally, because outbreaks of measles are occurring in Israel and throughout Europe. If your child develops a fever and rash, contact their health care provider and keep your children home from school or daycare.”

"I commend the Health Department and the City for taking the necessary steps to ensure that this outbreak is contained by informing and educating the community on ways to stop the spread of this and other preventable diseases," said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, a member of the Assembly's Health Committee. "The safety of our children is of the utmost importance."

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. 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.

Measles is a highly contagious disease. Young children, the immunocompromised, and non-immune pregnant women are at highest risk for severe complications. Measles is transmitted by airborne particles, droplets, and direct contact with the respiratory secretions of an infected person.

Measles typically presents in adults and children as an acute viral illness characterized by fever and generalized rash. The rash usually starts on the face, proceeds down the body, and may include the palms and soles. The rash lasts several days. Infected individuals are contagious from four days before rash onset through the fourth day after rash appearance.

If you think you were exposed to measles, contact your health care provider before going to the facility so they can prevent exposure to other patients. Tell the medical staff if you have fever and a rash and about any known exposures or international travel. You can prevent measles by making sure you and your family have received two doses of MMR vaccine.

Health care providers should ensure that adults and children over the age of 6 months who are traveling outside the U.S. have documented immunity to measles. In addition to the large outbreak currently going on in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel, there are large outbreaks in Europe; in the first six months of 2018, over 41,000 cases of measles and 37 deaths have been reported. 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.

Suspected persons with measles should be reported immediately to the Health Department. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/health and search for “measles.”

###

#084-18

MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Danielle De Souza, (347) 396-4177
PressOffice@health.nyc.gov