Published: Fri, April 12, 2019
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Measles Outbreak 2019: NYC announces a Public Health Emergency

Measles Outbreak 2019: NYC announces a Public Health Emergency

Some of those who've succumbed to the illness have been purposely infected with the disease, as parents in parts of New York City have been hosting "measles parties" to help spread the illness from those already infected to those who haven't been vaccinated. There are also significant outbreaks in Washington state, California, Michigan and New Jersey. Already this year, there have been almost 500 cases in 19 states in the U.S. The disease is transmitted when people who have not been vaccinated come into contact with others, so areas around global airports or proximity to communities who shun vaccines are of particular concern.

Elsewhere in the country, health officials are scrambling to diagnose victims, identify hot spots and disseminate information about the outbreak, which has been reported in a total 19 states, most recently in Maryland.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency on Tuesday that requires unvaccinated individuals in the largely Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg - where 285 people have been diagnosed with measles since last fall, and almost two dozen hospitalized - to get the measles vaccine or face citations or fines of up to $1,000. If New Yorkers fail to take up the offer, they face $1,000 fines. In fact, a study from The Atlantic states that about 92% of the population should be vaccinated for most diseases, and around 95% for highly contagious ones such as measles.

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For those in need of the measles vaccine, the Westchester County Health Department will be offering free measles, mumps, and rubella shots during three clinics. "It has occurred several times".

City health officials declined to comment on the mayor's order.

Under the mandatory vaccinations, members of the City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will check the vaccination records of any individual who may have been in contact with infected patients.

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Opponents of the order are trying to block it in court, according to New York City civil attorney Michael Sussman, whose office confirmed that he is involved in legal matters related to the issue.

Westchester County neighbors Rockland County, where 168 people have contracted measles, prompting schools to temporarily ban unvaccinated children.

The federal agency says that disease transmission for the recent cases likely originated in countries where measles is more common - throughout Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa and the Philippines - places people commonly visit. A state judge sided with the parents and issued a preliminary injunction against the emergency order last week. "Our goal is to get people vaccinated".

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"'If we catch people early enough, we can give them medication", Kiernan said. And so they're subjecting their children to a painful illness with high fevers and rash that has already hospitalized 10 percent of those who've contracted it in NY, including five who were serious enough to need intensive care. In 2019, there is no reason that your child should not be protected when we have at our fingertips safe and effective vaccines to prevent deadly diseases.

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