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New York City measles outbreak ends after 11 months

2019-09-03

Mayor Bill de Blasio declares a public health emergency in select zip codes in Brooklyn following a measles outbreak earlier this year. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

New York City’s measles outbreak and a public health emergency ended on Monday after 11 months and hundreds of people were infected, city health officials said.

The city spent $6 million battling what was largest measles outbreak in nearly three decades, with 654 people diagnosed with the potentially deadly viral infection since the start of the epidemic last October. Fifty-two people were hospitalized and 16 of them were admitted to intensive care because of measles.

Most cases were concentrated in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities where some anti-vaxxers resisted inoculating their children.

On Monday, the city lifted an April emergency order that required anyone who lives, works or goes to school in four Williamsburg zip codes be inoculated with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine or risk fines. Several yeshivas were temporarily shut down for violating the order.

The state passed a law this year ending religious or non-medical exemptions for vaccinations required for children enrolled in school and day care.

The city said 15,541 people got the vaccine since the order was declared April 9. No new cases have been reported since mid-July.

The public health emergency that was declared in April was lifted Monday because 42 days – or two incubation periods for measles – passed since the most recent infectious day for the last person with the disease in impacted areas.

The Health Department still stressed that measles is still a threat because of large outbreaks in Europe, Israel and countries in South America, Africa and Asia.