Brooklyn Boro

Measles outbreak in New York City is over, mayor declares

September 3, 2019 Scott Enman
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
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With no new measles cases in August and 42 days since the last exposure, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot declared the end of the disease’s outbreak in New York City on Tuesday morning.

The announcement comes roughly one year after a Brooklyn child acquired the infection on a trip to Israel, eventually leading to a public health emergency that cost the city $6 million.

“Ending the measles outbreak required extensive collaboration with community organizations and Jewish leaders,” de Blasio said. “They helped encourage vaccinations and achieve record immunization levels in parts of Brooklyn.

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“As we head back to school this week, we just remain vigilant. To keep our children and communities safe, I urge all New Yorkers to get vaccinated. It’s the best defense we have.”

Since September 2018, the disease has spread to 654 people. The epidemic was contained mostly to the Orthodox Jewish communities of Williamsburg and Borough Park, with more than a dozen confirmed cases also in Sunset Park among the Latino population. (At least six other sections of Brooklyn also had measles cases.)

The city declared the emergency order in April requiring mandatory measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations for residents who live in the northern Brooklyn ZIP codes of 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249. During that time, the city administered roughly 5,000 MMR vaccinations.

Since April — the worst month for the outbreak, with 194 cases — the disease slowed down significantly with only six new cases in July.

Measles outbreaks are normally declared over after two incubation periods (42 days) have passed since the last infectious day. An incubation period is 21 days from the last exposure, meaning people are at risk of getting sick for 21 days since they have been in contact with someone who has measles.

Officials say the outbreak was eventually stymied due to the city’s dedicated resources and its many informational campaigns, including distributing tens of thousands of pro vaccination booklets and conducting robocalls.

Barbot said that while the outbreak is over here in New York, those traveling overseas should still exhibit extreme caution to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.

“Measles is one of the most contagious diseases on the face of the earth,” Barbot said. “There may no longer be local transmission of measles in New York City, but the threat remains given other outbreaks in the U.S. and around the world.

“Our best defense against renewed transmission is having a well-immunized city. … We are grateful to the New Yorkers who shared the truth about vaccines and protected the health of their friends and neighbors through this outbreak.”

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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