September 04, 2019
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NYC declares end to measles outbreak that sickened hundreds

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The New York City measles outbreak that sickened more than 600 people in Brooklyn and Queens over the course of almost a year has ended, officials said.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and city health commissioner Oxiris Barbot, MD, announced that the outbreak-related public health emergency declared on April 9 for parts of Brooklyn was lifted. The outbreak was mostly confined to ultra-Orthodox Jewish residents with unvaccinated children.

“Ending the measles outbreak required extensive collaboration with community organizations and Jewish leaders,” de Blasio said in a news release. “They helped encourage vaccinations and achieve record immunization levels in parts of Brooklyn. As we head back to school this week, we just remain vigilant. To keep our children and communities safe, I urge all New Yorkers to get vaccinated. It’s the best defense we have.”

According to the release, measles outbreaks are over when two incubation periods for measles —42 days total — have passed since the last infectious day of the last infected patients. This period has passed for the city residents most recently infected with measles who were reported to the city health department.

Since the outbreak began in October 2018, the city spent over $6 million and dedicated more than 500 staff to the response efforts, according to the release. It disseminated pro-vaccination booklets, conducted multiple rounds of robocalls, sent letters and texts to residents and published ads and distributed educational materials in English, Yiddish and Spanish.

The outbreak totaled 654 cases, including 52 measles-related hospitalizations and 16 ICU admission.

As of Sept. 3, there have been 414 cases in New York state outside of the New York City outbreak, according to the New York State Department of Health. These include 312 cases in Rockland County, 57 in Orange County, 18 in Westchester County, 19 in Sullivan County, six in Wyoming County, one in Suffolk County and one in Greene County.

The United States will lose the measles-free status it achieved in 2000 if a case linked to either the New York City or Rockland County outbreak is recorded in October, a CDC spokeswoman recently confirmed to Infectious Disease News. A country is considered to have eliminated measles if no single strain of the virus has circulated for 12 months or more, and October would mark 1 year since the New York outbreaks began.

“While the measles case counts continue to sharply decline in outbreak areas throughout New York State, we must remain vigilant and maintain a high degree of readiness for new imported cases,” Jill Montag, public information officer for the New York State Department of Health, told Infectious Disease News.

“The department’s pro-vaccine message is clearly resonating in impacted communities. Since the outbreak began last October, more than 68,000 doses of MMR vaccines have been administered in Rockland, Orange, Westchester and Sullivan Counties, a 70% increase in the number of vaccines administered from the previous year. We will continue to work closely with all community stakeholders and local health departments to stop any continued transmission of measles in [New York State].” – by Joe Gramigna

References:

The City of New York. Mayor de Blasio, health officials declare end of measles outbreak in New York City. https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/409-19/mayor-de-blasio-health-officials-declare-end-measles-outbreak-new-york-city. Accessed September 4, 2019.

New York State Department of Health. Measles. https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2170/. Accessed September 4, 2019.

Disclosures: De Blasio and Montag report no relevant financial disclosures.