Several New York counties are faced with a measles outbreak that experts say could reach epidemic proportions. The cases of measles have reached a 20-year high, with at least 160 people reportedly infected with the virus in New York. The worst affected areas are Rockland County, where 105 cases have been reported and a Brooklyn neighborhood, where at least 55 people have been infected.
It’s not just New York state that’s seeing a sudden surge in the deadly disease either, as 25 other states have reported outbreaks, with Oregon and Washington seeing a spike in cases in particular.
In October, the sudden increase in cases in New York City was linked to an unvaccinated traveler from Israel, a country that has seen a recent resurgence in measles. The Washington outbreak was reportedly traced to an unvaccinated child who had traveled there from another country.
Since the introduction of the measles vaccine in the U.S. in 1963, the virus has posed a minimum threat, though among those who are not inoculated against it, it is one of the most contagious diseases in the world.
People who contract measles will experience a fever, sore throat, runny nose and cough, with a red blotchy rash presenting on the face and spreading over the body. Additional complications can arise as the infection worsens, including diarrhea, lung infections, and brain swelling.
Young children who contract measles can also develop pneumonia.
The disease is only preventable by vaccination. Most children are protected against the virus with the combined measles mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR). Typically, babies get the vaccination in two doses, the first between the ages of 12 and 15 months and the second between ages four and six.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) reported that, as of May 2017, an estimated 91 percent of children under three had received at least their first dose of the vaccination.
The growing movement against vaccinations has put people at risk, however, with some members of both the Amish and Orthodox Jewish faiths prohibiting them from getting their children vaccinated.
Among the many people who weighed in with comments on social media were those who didn’t believe that measles is that worrisome. One person noted: “Measles are most usually not that big of a deal… and they help build the immune system… everyone had the measles when I was a kid, people even brought their kids to the home of a person with measles so they could just get it over with.”
Another commenter noted: “This is beyond ridiculous, there are preventative measures.”
Others fired off comments about anti-vaxxers, such as one person who wrote: “shame on those parents who don’t vaccinate and put others at risk!”
One commenter took it one step further, remarking: “Vaccines should be mandatory, and any parent who refuses to vaccinate their child should be tried for parental negligence and sent to prison.”
Another person agreed, adding, “People who don’t vaccinate their children are bad parents who endanger their children and others’ children. CPS should take away their kids and be charged with criminal negligence.”
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