Measles cases rose almost four-fold in first quarter 2019

A doctor preparing to give a shot

A doctor preparing to give a shot

New York's mayor declared a public health emergency in parts of Brooklyn last week, after a measles outbreak emerged in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where some had resisted vaccination on religious grounds.

"I'm obviously very concerned about the size and also acceleration of the current outbreak", said Dr. Nancy Messonier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "The disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people".

While vaccines are required for school children across the country, nearly all states allow exemptions for families who say it's against their religious beliefs, and 17 states allow a parent to opt out for philosophical or personal reasons.

"By the time you finish reading this, we estimate that at least 40 people - a lot of them children - will be infected by this fast-moving, life-threatening disease", Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, wrote in an opinion piece Monday on CNN.

The city's Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment.

The New York City measles outbreak is the largest in the country.

"The school will be allowed to reopen once they convince us that they are able to, on a consistent basis, keep students in school that should be in school, and keep students out of school that should not be in school", Barbot said.

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Experts say overall vaccination rates of 90 to 95 percent are needed to provide "herd immunity", which helps keep outbreaks at bay and protect babies who are too young to be vaccinated and others who can't get the vaccine for medical reasons.

"Most measles outbreaks in the United States stop sooner than this", she said.

Of the 329 confirmed NY measles cases, 284 are children and 45 are adults.

Several people had to be hospitalized, but no fatalities had been reported as of last week.

"Vaccine is the path to stopping this outbreak", Palacio said.

Health officials there announced last week that in the neighborhoods affected by the outbreak, anyone who has not had been vaccinated against measles or cannot show evidence of immunity could face a $1,000 fine. "This anti-vax movement has proven to be very unsafe". We should not have active measles in the United States.

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