Measles Outbreak Worst in Decades for Washington, New York

Troy Brown, RN

January 31, 2019

The states of Washington and New York are experiencing the worst measles outbreaks in decades, according to media reports. Officials say failure to vaccinate children is responsible for the resurgence of the disease, which was eradicated in the United States in 2000.

As of January 29, there were 37 confirmed cases of measles in Washington state — 36 in Clark County, and one in King County — according to the Washington State Department of Health. The patient in King County is located in Seattle and is believed to have been exposed to measles in Clark County.

In New York state, 209 cases have occurred since October, as reported by CNN. As of January 29, 64 confirmed measles cases have occurred in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, according to the New York City Department of Health. In Brooklyn, the neighborhood of Borough Park has 37 confirmed measles cases, with one in the past week. Bensonhurst and Midwood/Marine Park each have one confirmed case; no new cases have been reported there since November 2018. Williamsburg has 25 confirmed cases, with one new case in the past week.

The first child to develop measles in Brooklyn was unvaccinated and became ill with the disease during a visit to Israel, which is currently experiencing a large outbreak. Other unvaccinated children from Brooklyn have traveled to Israel and contracted measles while there. Some children did not travel to Israel and acquired measles in Brooklyn and Rockland County, New York.

Those who plan to travel to Israel should be vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine 2 weeks or more before traveling, according to the health department. Individuals who have traveled to Israel and who develop a fever, cough, red eyes, nasal discharge, and body rash should contact their physician. Unless it is a medical emergency, individuals should call their healthcare provider before going to see them, so staff can take precautions to avoid exposing other patients.

In Washington state, where a state of emergency has been declared, 23 confirmed and two suspected cases were reported on January 22. Clark County, Washington, is near Portland, Oregon, a community with a large number of unvaccinated individuals.

In Washington state, Clark County Public Health has established a hotline — 360-397-8021 — which residents can call with questions about the investigation or possible exposure to measles.

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