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NY hit by worst measles outbreak in a decade

By Zhang Ruinan in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-15 08:09

The largest measles outbreak in New York in a decade has sickened at least 150 people, with most of the cases traced to members of the Orthodox Jewish community, according to city health officials.

The outbreak emerged after an unvaccinated child returned from a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak of the disease was under way, according to the city health department.

The child infected at least 21 people with the virus at a school in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, according to The New York Times. The infected people hadn't been vaccinated either.

There are no deaths recorded with the outbreak in the city, but there have been 11 hospitalizations, Michael Lanza, a spokesman for the health department, told China Daily in an e-mail on Tuesday.

Almost 300 cases of the disease have been confirmed in New York state through the first week of March. The state's outbreak, which began in October, has gone on longer and infected more people than any other current outbreak nationwide, according to health officials.

In 2018, 82 cases of measles were imported into the United States from other countries, the highest number of imported cases since the illness had appeared to be wiped by vaccination in the US in 2000, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measles is one of the most contagious infections since the virus can live for up to two hours in the airspace where an infected person has breathed, coughed or sneezed.

The city health department said that measles vaccination rate in the city and state was already close to 97 percent. Yet officials said they have struggled to increase vaccinations in certain communities because of the popularity of the widely debunked anti-vaccination movement.

"We are on the verge of one (public health crisis) in this country because we are not immunizing to the degree needed," one of the bill's sponsors, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, a Democrat from Albany, told China Daily.

"It's a wake-up call, and it's really to say we've got to stop the complacency, because parents are not only putting their own children at risk, they are putting other children and adults at risk when they don't immunize their children," Fahy said.

(China Daily 03/15/2019 page12)

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