Quantcast

NYC Declares Public Health Emergency as 60 New Measles Cases Reported in One Week

Health + Wellness
Mayor Bill de Blasio is ordering residents of certain Brooklyn neighborhoods to get the measles vaccine in order to fight an ongoing outbreak. andriano_cz / iStock / Getty Images Plus

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency in an attempt to curb a measles outbreak that continues to spread among the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The declaration mandates that any unvaccinated person living in certain Williamsburg zip codes receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or face a violation and potential $1,000 fine.


The declaration comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the number of measles cases in the U.S. this year had spiked 20 percent over the week ending April 4, CNBC reported. The total for the country is now 465 cases, and 60 of the 78 cases reported last week were in New York City.

"This is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is very, very troubling and must be dealt with immediately," de Blasio said at a news conference in Williamsburg reported by The New York Times. "The measles vaccine works. It is safe, it is effective, it is time-tested."

The city's decision comes after another order in December 2018, banning unvaccinated children from certain Brooklyn schools, failed to curb the outbreak that has infected 285 people in the city since last fall. The city said it would enforce the new order by checking the vaccination record of anyone in contact with the person infected in each new case reported to the city.

New York City health officials also warned against the practice of "measles parties" where parents of infected and uninfected children arrange get-togethers to ensure children both catch and become immune to the disease at a young age.

"As a parent, I have no doubt that each and every parent is making decisions based out of what they believe is best for their children," Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio said, according to CBS New York. "But as a doctor, a public health practitioner, and a mom, I must warn you that exposing your unvaccinated child to measles is very dangerous, and it could even be deadly."

One to two of every 1,000 children who get measles dies, according to the CDC. Further, one in every 1,000 children who fall ill develops a swelling of the brain that can result in deafness or intellectual disability.

The current outbreak began in October 2018 when an unvaccinated child became infected with the disease on a visit to Israel. It has also led to 15 cases in Orange County, New York and 168 cases in Rockland County, New York, CNN reported.

Rockland County tried to combat the outbreak last month by banning unvaccinated children from enclosed public spaces, but acting state Supreme Court Justice Rolf Thorsen blocked the order April 5.

De Blasio said that he had checked with city's lawyers and that the New York City was within its rights to order vaccinations.

"We are absolutely certain we have the power to do this," de Blasio said, as The New York Times reported. "This is a public health emergency."

There tend to be lower vaccination rates among Orthodox Jewish communities, but there is no religious prohibition against vaccines.

"There's nothing in Talmudic law that prohibits vaccination," Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said, as CNN reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Baby orangutan and mother orang utan seen walking in Jakarta, Indonesia. Aprison Photography / Moment / Getty Images

By Tara Lohan

To be a good wildlife photographer, you need an expertly trained eye. But good ears help, too.

Read More
Worker spraying toxic pesticides or insecticides on corn plantation. D-Keine / E+ / Getty Images

Poor people in developing countries are far more likely to suffer from exposure to pesticides classified as having high hazard to human health or the environment, according to new data that Unearthed analyzed.

Read More
Sponsored
Power to heat, to cool, to drive the world's industries. Renewables can supply it all. Jason Blackeye / Unsplash

By Paul Brown

Virtually all the world's demand for electricity to run transport and to heat and cool homes and offices, as well as to provide the power demanded by industry, could be met by renewable energy by mid-century.

Read More
Phthalates, a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break, affect health in many ways. Tatyana Tomsickova Photography / Moment / Getty Images

By George Citroner

  • Exposure to phthalates was associated with autism traits in boys (but not girls) between ages 3 and 4 years, according to a new study.
  • However, the risk was diminished in women who took folic acid during their pregnancy.
  • This study is the first to find that folic acid supplements provide a protective effect from phthalates.

Exposure in the womb to a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals called phthalates was associated with autism traits in boys (but not girls) between ages 3 and 4 years, according to a new study.

Read More
A coral and fish community at the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, on Aug. 28, 2018. Francois Gohier / VWPics / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Researchers released a sobering study this week showing that all of the world's coral reefs may be lost to the climate crisis by 2100.

Read More