In a follow-up on the measles outbreak reported in the Orthodox Jewish community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn last month, health officials report an additional eleven cases, bringing the outbreak total to 17 in communities in Williamsburg and Borough Park.

The children with measles range in age from 7 months to 4 years. Three infections, including the initial case of measles, were acquired by children on a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak of the disease is occurring. 

This was a patient who presented with Koplik’s spots on palate due to pre-eruptive measles on day 3 of the illness./CDC
This was a patient who presented with Koplik’s spots on palate due to pre-eruptive measles on day 3 of the illness./CDC

There has also been transmission in the schools of unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated children. There are no deaths associated with this cluster, although there have been complications including hospitalization.

To increase awareness about measles, the Health Department is sending notifications to schools, providers and hospitals with large Orthodox Jewish populations. The Department is also conducting community outreach in the affected communities, placing ads in local newspapers and distributing posters to health care providers. There has been an increase in vaccination rates in these communities since the Health Department announced the outbreak, but many more children should receive the MMR vaccine to stop measles transmission.

“The increase in measles cases in Orthodox Jewish communities of Brooklyn demonstrates the importance of getting children vaccinated on time to prevent measles and not put other children at risk,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “The Health Department continues to strongly recommend unvaccinated individuals to get vaccinated now, especially before traveling internationally. If your child develops a rash or fever, contact your physician immediately and keep them home from school or child care.”

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“It says in the Torah “V’nishmartem Meod L’nafshoseichem”, that a person must guard their health,” said Rabbi David Niederman, President of the UJO of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn. “It is abundantly clear on the necessity for parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated, especially from Measles.”

The Health Department recommends the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for children at age 12 months, with a second dose at 4 to 6 years old. Two doses of MMR are required to attend kindergarten through grade 12. Children attending daycare, nursery school, Head Start and pre-K are required to have one dose of MMR vaccine. All persons, including infants ages 6 to 11 months should be vaccinated prior to international travel. Parents should keep ill children at home and not send them to daycare or school. If there is measles in a student, all unvaccinated children – including those with a medical or religious exemption – will be excluded and unable to attend the daycare or school for 21 days after their last exposure.

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