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Measles spreading in both New York and California

The New York Times, in a March 18 story, reported that public health officials in New York City are looking closely at the possibility that some of the 20 measles patients this year caught the illness in a doctor's office or hospital emergency department. Nearly all the patients to date were not vaccinated for the contagious respiratory disease.

Child with the measles April 2009
Child with the measles April 2009
Dave Haygarth on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Times quotes Dr. Jay Varma, the health department’s deputy commissioner for disease control, as stating:

We know a number of people were exposed and possibly got their infection either at a doctor’s office or at an emergency room where they went and it took more time than it should have for them to be put in an isolation area where they couldn’t possibly infect anyone else...

On March 14, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that it had received reports of 32 measles cases thus far in 2014. Ten of the 32 patients had traveled overseas, seven to the Philippines, two to India and one to Vietnam. The Philippines is the subject of a travel notice from the Centers for Disease Control where a large measles outbreak has been taking place since Typhoon Haiyan struck.

In California, the CDPH told KPCC on March 18 that 19 of the 32 measles cases in the state this year had not been vaccinated. Of the 19, the officials said that 14 were intentionally not vaccinated.

In NYC, seven of the sick children were too young to be vaccinated, the Times reported. The other two patients were intentionally not vaccinated. There are 11 adult patients and only three had vaccination records. An outbreak in Brooklyn in March, 2013, resulted in 58 measles cases and began with a 17 year old who had been intentionally not vaccinated.

Measles can be a severe and sometimes fatal illness. The Philippine Department of Health reports that from Jan. 1 to Feb. 15, 2014 the nation saw 15,683 suspected cases of measles. There have been 23 confirmed measles deaths in the first six weeks of the year. Of the 3,434 laboratory confirmed cases of measles, 1,502, 30 percent, were in children under the age of 12 months.