Sunday September 15, 2019

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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New York, Measles, Epidemic
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.

New York, Measles, Epidemic
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.

New York, Measles, Epidemic
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

How Americans Are Handling Post 9/11 Trauma

Eighteen years ago, more than 60% of Americans watched as the worst terror attack ever to occur on U.S. soil unfolded on television

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empire, state, building, us, 9/11, terrorism, safety
Covered in dust, ash and falling debris on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, New York City Transit's express coach #2185 could have been written off and sent off to scrap. It was decided, however, to rebuild her as a symbol of NYC Transit’s resiliency and a rolling example of the dedication of the agency’s employees. Wikimedia Commons

Eighteen years ago, more than 60% of Americans watched as the worst terror attack ever to occur on U.S. soil unfolded on television — either in real time or in repeated replays.

That up-close view of the murders of almost 3,000 people jolted Americans out of the sense of security they’d enjoyed at least since World War II.

“I think that up until that time, perhaps people were more optimistic or certainly had a sense that it couldn’t happen here. Terrorist attacks were something that happened overseas, but not in the United States on our soil,” says Roxane Cohen Silver, professor of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine.

“The concept of fearing violence on a day-to-day basis just wasn’t part of the existence of most people in the United States.”

Empire State building, US, New York, 9/11, trauma, mental health
TV viewers said the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack was the all-time most memorable moment shared by television viewers during the past 50 years, according to a 2012 study. VOA

Cohen Silver, who studies the impact of collective trauma, says some individuals with no direct connection to the 9/11 attacks exhibited symptoms that experts had previously assumed were the result of direct exposure to trauma.

“Individuals who watched a great deal of television in the first week after 9/11 were more likely to exhibit post-traumatic stress symptomatology and physical health ailments years later,” she says.

Those symptoms often included anxiety and fear, as well as the onset of physical health ailments such as cardiovascular issues.

“We learned from 9/11 that large-scale events could impact people beyond the directly affected communities, that the events that occurred in New York could impact people in Kansas,” Cohen Silver says. “The second message we’ve learned from 9/11 was the important role of the media in transmitting that awareness and that potential anxiety.”

Empire State building, US, New York, 9/11, trauma, mental health
Students and others watch live television coverage of the 9/11 attacks on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, Sept. 11, 2001.
VOA

In the 18 years since 9/11, the rise of social media and smartphones has resulted in increased access to images of mass violence. In addition, there are no news editors or other middlemen to weed out potentially disturbing content. The speed with which these images reach people has also escalated.

Young Americans born after 9/11 have grown up in a world where acts of mass violence are increasingly commonplace.

More than 230 school shootings have occurred since 1999, when 13 people were killed at Columbine High School near Denver.

Mass attacks continue to occur in places that Americans commonly view as safe spaces, from the 2016 Orlando nightclub attack that killed 49; the 2017 Las Vegas concert shooting where 58 people were killed and hundreds more wounded; to last month’s shooting at a Texas Walmart that left 22 people dead.

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“We’re so consumed with new events, you know, current events, hurricanes, mass violence events. And there are many of these that occur, and they’re all tragic,” says Cohen Silver. “But the psychological effects of September 11, 2019, cannot be directly linked to the 9/11 attacks without considering all of the rest of the things that have occurred.”

While the average American cannot control the violence around them, they can protect their mental health by not inundating themselves with images of the tragedies, which can be psychologically unhealthy.

“I believe that people can be informed without becoming immersed in the media. There’s no obvious benefit to repeated exposure to images and sounds of tragedy,” says Cohen Silver. “And so, once people are informed, I would say to practice caution in the amount of media attention that they engage and the amount of media exposure that they engage in.” (VOA)