Staten Island Had Measles Cases, Health Department Learns

NEW YORK -
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The measles outbreak in New York City has also had cases in Staten Island, the city Health Department announced Wednesday, but most of those cases occurred several months ago.

The Department said that seven measles cases were identified in Staten Island – six in the Willowbrook neighborhood, and one in Port Richmond. But six of the seven occurred in March, and were only now reported by a health-care provider. Those six cases are linked to the measles outbreak in Rockland County.

One measles case was identified in the Chelsea/Clinton neighborhood of Manhattan, the first confirmed measles case in that borough since the outbreak began in October.

The New York City measles outbreak has now had 550 confirmed cases, including 15 cases identified since the Department last announced statistics on Friday. In addition to the seven in Staten Island and one in Manhattan, there have been five newly identified cases in Williamsburg and three in Boro Park. Of the 550 confirmed cases, 424 have been in Williamsburg and 85 in Boro Park. Sunset Park has seen 12 cases, but none since last Friday.

Forty-two measles patients have been hospitalized, 12 in intensive care units.

The Department had previously recommended extra doses of the MMR vaccine for those living in Boro Park and Williamsburg: an extra, early dose of MMR for infants ages 6 to 11 months and an early dose of MMR for children ages 1 to 4 years following the routine dose at 12 months of age, as long as 28 days have passed since the last dose. Last week, the Department extended the recommendation to Sunset Park.

405 of the measles cases in New York have occurred in unvaccinated people, the Department said. 39 of the cases occurred in people who had only received one dose, and 27 in people who had received two doses. Vaccination records were unknown for the other 79 people.

“The recently identified cases are linked to exposures in neighborhoods with known measles activity,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “These cases prove the urgent need to get vaccinated, especially if you spend time in areas that are experiencing an outbreak. This message cannot be overstated – if you live, work or attend school in these sections of the city, get vaccinated if you are able.”

A small but passionate minority of parents are refusing to vaccinate their children, preferring to ensure immunity by exposing them to the measles, as they believe vaccines may cause autism and other health problems.

A mother from Williamsburg who asked to be identified only as Leah told Hamodia that she prefers to have her children contract the measles and ensure immunity, rather than taking what she believes are risky and ineffective vaccines.

“I think it’s time to teach people about how to properly prepare and take care of a child or adult with measles and take away the fear of this disease,” said Leah. “Measles symptoms can be managed with certain vitamins. And we have seen even fully vaccinated people contract the measles.”

Several of Leah’s young children have contracted measles during this outbreak, and she says the children had only mild symptoms due to “proper management.” Leah herself has contracted the disease, though she had received two doses of the MMR vaccine.

rborchardt@hamodia.com