New York

New York Has Stunning 82 Percent of America's Measles Cases as Outbreak Total Soars to 839

Twenty-three states have reported cases, but the vast majority have been in New York — mainly in New York City and in nearby Rockland County

What to Know

  • The number of U.S. measles cases connected to the current outbreak hit 839 as of Friday, the CDC said Monday
  • The burgeoning national outbreak has been fueled by outbreaks in New York, primarily in the city and Rockland County
  • Brooklyn and Queens had 466 confirmed cases as of last week, while New York's Rockland County had 225, according to health department data

Nearly 100 more measles cases have been reported across the nation since last week, marking a 10 percent increase in total cases as the number in the U.S.' worst outbreak in decades eclipses the 800 mark, officials said Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 839 cases had been reported as of Friday. It's the most in the U.S. since 1994, when 963 were reported, and affects 23 states, though the lion's share of cases are in New York.

More than 40 new cases were reported in Brooklyn and Queens, which have 466 confirmed cases -- more than half of the entire U.S. outbreak concentrated in two boroughs, officials say. City health department data only goes up until May 6, four days earlier than the CDC total. New York's Rockland County, which took the dramatic step a few weeks ago of banning unvaccinated minors from indoor public places in an effort to control the spread, had 225 confirmed cases as of Friday, an increase of nearly a dozen over the prior reporting period.

New Jersey's numbers haven't been updated on the state health department website, but there are more than a dozen confirmed cases in Ocean County and a number of exposure risks in Monmouth and Middlesex counties as well. 

For a deeper dive on how measles made a comeback in New York, and whether you might need to get a booster shot, listen to NBC New York's latest episode of The Debrief podcast. On Apple podcasts here, on all other devices here

Most of the New York cases have been unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities. A New York City emergency declaration that bans unvaccinated youth from attending school or day care in four Brooklyn ZIP codes remains in effect, and a number of schools have already been shut down. While the order includes highly Orthodox parts of Williamsburg, it also covers Fort Greene.

Overall, three-quarters of those who caught the extremely contagious disease are children or teenagers. No deaths have been reported this year, but dozens of patients were hospitalized. Many patients contracted the disease while traveling aboard and were not vaccinated, authorities said. 

Measles in most people causes fever, a runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. A very small fraction of those infected can suffer complications such as pneumonia and a dangerous swelling of the brain. According to the CDC, for every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.

The return of measles may be an early warning sign of a resurgences of other vaccine-preventable diseases such as rubella, chickenpox and bacterial meningitis, some experts say.

In recent decades, health officials have relied on doctors to prod families to vaccinate their children against measles and other diseases. That push has been bolstered by requirements in every state that children be vaccinated to attend public schools. But as vaccination rates have fallen in some communities and cases exploded, officials recently have taken more dramatic steps.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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