Health officials declare end of measles outbreak
by Benjamin Fang
Sep 11, 2019 | 200 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The measles outbreak in New York City is over, city health officials said last week.

On September 3, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot announced the end of the public health emergency first declared on April 9 for parts of Brooklyn.

According to the city, measles outbreaks are usually declared over when two incubation periods, the equivalent of 42 days, have passed since the last person with measles was infected.

“Ending the measles outbreak required extensive collaboration with community organizations and Jewish leaders,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “They helped encourage vaccinations and achieve record immunization levels in parts of Brooklyn.”

The mayor urged residents to remain vigilant and to get vaccinated to keep children safe.

“It’s the best defense we have,” de Blasio said.

To end the outbreak, the city spent more than $6 million and dedicated more than 500 staff members to the response effort.

Officials disseminated tens of thousands of pro-vaccine booklets, conducted multiple rounds of robocalls, sent letters and texts to residents and published ads and distributed materials in English, Yiddish and Spanish.

The city also launched an ad campaign that appeared at bus shelters, LinkNYC kiosks and in newspapers. City officials hosted community events and even organized a tele-town hall.

Since the outbreak began in October 2018, in what would become the largest measles outbreak in three decades, 654 people were diagnosed with the contagious disease.

Fifty-two people were sent to the hospital, and 16 were admitted to intensive care due to measles complications, health officials said.

Roughly 80 percent of the measles cases were diagnosed in people under 18 years of age. Seventy-three percent were unvaccinated, seven percent were incompletely vaccinated and 15 percent did not know their vaccination status.

According to the city, while there were cases in all five boroughs, 72 percent of the cases occurred in four ZIP codes in Williamsburg.

No new cases have been reported since mid-July, health officials said, but the Health Department will continue to monitor any additional cases.

City officials warned that although the outbreak is over here, the threat of measles still remains in Europe and Israel, as well as countries in South America, Africa and Asia.

Health officials advised travelers to check with their medical provider prior to international travel to ensure they are immune to measles or have been adequately vaccinated.

“There may no longer be local transmission of measles in New York City, but the threat remains given other outbreaks in the U.S. and around the world,” Barbot said in a statement. “Our best defense against renewed transmission is having a well immunized city.”

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner for the Health Department’s Division of Disease Control, added that it only takes one case to start an outbreak.

“We will continue to urge everyone to confirm that they are immune to measles by looking at their vaccination histories or by consulting with a healthcare provider,” he said. “Get vaccinated, it is safe and effective.”
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