Monday January 20, 2020

New York’s Worst Measles Epidemic in Nearly 30 Years Officially over After Months of Emergency Measures

The official end of the outbreak, 42 days since the last reported case, comes before the start of the US financial capital's new school year Thursday

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FILE PHOTO: A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella virus (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington, March 20, 2019. VOA

US officials on Tuesday declared New York’s worst measles epidemic in nearly 30 years officially over after months of emergency measures that included mandatory vaccinations. New York

About 654 people, many in areas with large Orthodox Jewish communities, were infected since October last year but there have been no new cases since mid-July, the city government said.

The official end of the outbreak, 42 days since the last reported case, comes before the start of the US financial capital’s new school year Thursday.

Schools and nurseries were the focal points of government efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

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US officials on Tuesday declared New York’s worst measles epidemic in nearly 30 years officially over after months of emergency measures that included mandatory vaccinations. Pixabay

“To keep our children and communities safe, I urge all New Yorkers to get vaccinated. It’s the best defense we have,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

Authorities declared measles eliminated in the United States in 2000 but there have been 1,234 cases of the potentially deadly disease reported in the country this year, the worst since 1992 according to the Center for Disease Control.

The rise comes as a growing anti-vaccine movement gains steam around the world, driven by fraudulent claims linking the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella, to a risk of autism in children.

New York city officials made vaccinations mandatory in the worst affected areas in April to help stem the epidemic. Schools were also allowed to turn away children who had not been vaccinated.

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Those measures have been lifted, but a New York state law passed in June outlawing religious exemptions that had allowed parents to circumvent school-mandated vaccination remains in place.

“There may no longer be local transmission of measles in New York City, but the threat remains given other outbreaks in the US and around the world,” said New York’s health commissioner Oxiris Barbot.

The city government spent over $6 million and mobilized more than 500 employees to fight the outbreak.

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About 654 people, many in areas with large Orthodox Jewish communities, were infected since October last year but there have been no new cases since mid-July, the city government said. Pixabay

Last month, the World Health Organization said there were 89,994 cases of measles in 48 European countries in the first six months of 2019.

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That was more than double the number in the same period in 2018 when there were 44,175 cases, and already more than the 84,462 cases reported for all of 2018. (VOA)

Next Story

New Virus Can Spread Through Human Contact: China

China: Possible That New Virus Could Spread Between Humans

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Security guards stand in front of the closed Huanan wholesale seafood market, where health authorities say a man who died from a respiratory illness had purchased goods from, in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, China. VOA

The possibility that a new virus in central China could spread between humans cannot be ruled out, though the risk of transmission at the moment appears to be low, Chinese officials said Wednesday.

Forty-one people in the city of Wuhan have received a preliminary diagnosis of a novel coronavirus, a family of viruses that can cause both the common cold and more serious diseases. A 61-year-old man with severe underlying conditions died from the coronavirus on Saturday.

While preliminary investigations indicate that most of the patients had worked at or visited a particular seafood wholesale market, one woman may have contracted the virus from her husband, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a public notice.

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Commuters wear protection masks inside a subway train in Hong Kong, China. VOA

The commission said the husband, who fell ill first, worked at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Meanwhile, the wife said she hasn’t had any exposure to the market.

It’s possible that the husband brought home food from the market that then infected his wife, Hong Kong health official Chuang Shuk-kwan said at a news briefing. But because the wife did not exhibit symptoms until days after her husband, it’s also possible that he infected her.

Chuang and other Hong Kong health officials spoke to reporters Wednesday following a trip to Wuhan, where mainland Chinese authorities briefed them on the outbreak.

The threat of human-to-human transmission remains low, Chuang said, as hundreds of people, including medical professionals, have been in close contact with infected individuals and have not been infected themselves.

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She echoed Wuhan authorities’ assertion that there remains no definitive evidence of human-to-human transmission.

The outbreak in Wuhan has raised the specter of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS is a type of coronavirus that first struck southern China in late 2002. It then spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800 people. (VOA)