New York outbreaks drive US measles count up to 626

NEW YORK — Outbreaks in New York state continue to drive up the number of U.S. measles cases, which are approaching levels not seen in 25 years.

Health officials say 71 more cases were reported last week, with 68 of them from New York. That brings this year’s total to 626.

That is already the most since 2014, when 667 were reported for the whole year. The most before that was 963 cases in 1994.

Twenty-two states have reported cases, but the vast majority have been in New York — mainly in New York City and in nearby Rockland County. Most of the New York cases have been unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the latest numbers Monday.

The city’s Health Department has since issued summonses to three people for flouting  an emergency order to vaccinate their children for measles.

City officials announced an emergency vaccination order for four ZIP codes in Brooklyn last week, 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249, in an effort to stem a measles outbreak that has sickened 329 people since October. A lawsuit challenging the order was dismissed by a state judge.

Most cases have been reported from Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn. Five cases, including the initial case of measles, were acquired on a visit to Israel, where a large outbreak of the disease is occurring, according to the health department.

In Rockland, a County Executive issued an emergency order, banning children from public places unless they’ve ben vaccinated against measles for 30 days. A judge ruled against the state of emergency, favoring the several dozen parents.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that is transmitted by airborne particles, droplets and direct contact with respiratory secretions of an infected person.

Symptoms, including fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, usually appear 10 to 12 days after exposure.

Measles can be prevented through vaccinations. New Yorkers are advised to call 311 to access a list of facilities that provide the MMR vaccine at little to no cost.

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