With Measles Outbreaks, A Deadly But Preventable Disease Returns

A nurse prepares the measles mumps and rubella vaccine at the Rockland County Health Department recently

But so far, the epidemic is largely confined to Williamsburg and within its large Orthodox Jewish community.

Last week saw a minor victory for vaccination advocates amid the United States' ongoing measles outbreak: A Kentucky judge ruled against a lawsuit filed by 18-year-old Jerome Kunkel against the Northern Kentucky Health Department, claiming the department had discriminated against Kunkel by asking schools to exclude students not vaccinated for chicken pox from school and extracurricular activities.

The new cases were reported a day after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced mandatory MMR vaccinations for everyone living in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood - in one of the toughest measures against an outbreak in U.S. history. A ideal storm of virulent anti-vaccine sentiment has taken hold in the United States in less than two decades - most commonly among those too young to remember the wrath of measles and other deadly diseases - that can be pinpointed to some of these factors: a fraudulent U.K. research study that linked autism with vaccines, the rise of uninformed and potentially unsafe social media chatter, and pockets of people who either don't believe measles is "as bad as we are told" or who desire natural, so-called alternative parenting styles.

The city has ceaselessly worked over the past year to raise awareness about Measles vaccinations.

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For more information on the MMR vaccine, talk to your local healthcare provider, or read about vaccination on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

NYC announced a public health emergency because of the spread of measles over the province of Brooklyn. Miriam, who also didn't want to give her name due to privacy concerns, said everyone should be vaccinated.

Public health officials insist otherwise. To them, fear of the unknown outweighs fear of a disease that they have never seen in their lifetime.

Other than encouraging residents to vaccinate themselves or their children, Westchester County is not taking any action at this time, Latimer said.

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Babies and people with immune-compromised conditions who cannot be immunized against measles, she said, can develop serious complications from contracting measles, including brain swelling, which can lead to brain damage and even death.

A case of measles confirmed in Maryland last week appears not to have spread into the greater Washington area, officials said Thursday, but government health agencies are preparing and watching for any additional signs of the highly infectious disease.

The health officials will try to persuade any unvaccinated person who has been exposed to measles to get the vaccine. Measles is so contagious that 90 percent of all unvaccinated children and adults who come in contact with an infected person will contract the virus.

That fact places this community at the heart of the vaccination debate, raising the risk of fueling anti-Semitism, said Gary Siepser, president of the Jewish Foundation of Rockland County. Unvaccinated individuals should have their shots within 48 hours or face $1,000 fine. "When people choose not to be vaccinated, measles returns, and outbreaks occur".

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In neighboring Rockland County, there are 173 confirmed cases of measles.

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