New York State Faces Worst Measles Outbreak In Recent History

By Claire Lampen

New York finds itself mired in the worst measles outbreak it's seen in recent memory, with 55 cases confirmed in the city since September. In Rockland and Orange counties, a further 112 people have been diagnosed.

"If you go back many decades ago when we weren't vaccinating, of course there were probably more outbreaks, but in my memory, I don't know of a measles outbreak that was this significant," New York State Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker told CNN. The city itself experienced a slightly larger outbreak in 2013, with 58 cases diagnosed, but statewide, this is the most aggressive spread health officials have seen in years. In 1991, more than 2,000 cases were reported to the city health department.

Unfortunately, the source of the outbreak appears to be unvaccinated children, who were exposed to the virus on a trip to Israel—which is also weathering an outbreak—early this fall. Those children, in turn, spread the disease to other unvaccinated kids with whom they came in contact. The disease has since clustered in Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish communities: According to the NY Post, Borough Park has counted 32 cases, Williamsburg has had 21, Bensonhurst has seen one, as has Midwood/Marine Park. The vast majority of cases across the state have affected patients under the age of 18.

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