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The Israel Ministry of Health is reporting an increase in measles cases this year with six out of 10 cases being reported from the Jerusalem area. According to an Haaretz report this week, the number of people diagnosed in Israel with measles has spiked since the start of the year to 882, an increase of some 200 cases in a week.

State of Israel

Of this total, 60% of these cases, a total of 529 people, were in the Jerusalem district. In Safed, 115 cases were diagnosed. An additional 74 cases were reported in Petah Tikva, 55 in greater Tel Aviv, 27 in Acre and 27 in Ramle.

The outbreak that stared in August has been linked to low vaccination rates in the region, prompting an immunization campaign, particularly in areas where the ultra-Orthodox reside.

“The problem in Jerusalem is in areas and populations, like some of the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, with pockets of non-vaccination, or where not everybody gets vaccinated,” said Prof. Yechiel Schlesinger, an expert in infectious diseases and director of the Wilf Children’s Hospital at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

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Some 95% of people in Israel are immunized, but there are population groups where fewer than 90% are immunized “and that’s where the outbreaks can happen,”according to Health Ministry Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto.

Measles is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes followed by a rash that typically spreads from the head to the rest of the body. It generally takes 8 to 12 days, but can be as long as 21 days, from exposure to the first symptom, usually fever. The measles rash usually appears two to three days after the fever begins. Measles is highly contagious and spreads easily by coughing, sneezing or even being in the same room with someone who has measles. People with measles are contagious from four days before to four days after rash onset.

How contagious is measles? Answer: Very