Brooklyn Boro

Measles spreads to Sunset Park as confirmed cases rise to 466

2 public school students among those infected

May 8, 2019 Scott Enman
The measles outbreak has spread to Sunset Park with three non-Jewish individuals, including two public school students, contracting the disease. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

New York City’s measles outbreak, mostly contained to the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, has now spread to Sunset Park as three people outside the Orthodox community — including two students — have contracted the disease.

Neither child was vaccinated, but they were allowed to attend school due to religious exemptions, according to the Health Department. They did not, however, go to school while infectious, and both had spent time in areas rife with measles.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Demetre Daskalakis sought to assure the community that public school students are not at an increased risk of getting the disease.

“We are confident there is no increased risk of exposure at New York City public schools both because the recently diagnosed children from Sunset Park were not in school while infectious and because of the high vaccination rates of students in these and all NYC public schools,” Daskalakis said.

“This is the time to act. Measles is a highly contagious disease. If you are spending time in Williamsburg, Borough Park or other areas with measles activity in or around NYC confirm that you are immune to measles by looking at your vaccination history or by consulting with your healthcare provider.”

Daskalakis urged anyone living, working, studying or playing in areas with measles like Williamsburg and Borough Park to get vaccinated.

The total number of confirmed cases across the city has risen to 466 — 43 more since April 30 — and an additional 181 since Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency on April 9.

Eighty-one percent or 379 cases have occurred in Williamsburg. As part of the emergency, the city ordered mandatory measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations for residents in who live in the 11205, 11206, 11211, 11249 ZIP codes.

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The mandate has been met with some resistance. An anti-vaxxer organization representing the parents of five unvaccinated children in Williamsburg filed a lawsuit against the city, but it was dismissed by a Brooklyn judge. A second attempt to fight the mandate was also denied by an appellate court.

The mayor said individuals and parents who ignored the order would be fined up to $1,000 and questioned by “disease detectives.” Eighty-four unvaccinated individuals have already received such fines.

“Right now, we still see a highly localized outbreak in the Williamsburg community, even though there have been sporadic infections outside of the neighborhood,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “One reason we have not seen secondary infections outside this community is because so many people are vaccinated, underscoring the importance of vaccination.

“We want to urge people to remain calm. The best way to protect yourself as well as family, friends, neighbors and fellow New Yorkers is to make sure that you are immune from the measles if you have not already done so.”

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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