Measles makes a comeback

Disease continues to infect those around the globe

Hannah Jiang, Section Editor

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It’s been the first major sighting of the deadly disease in years, as measles, one of the most highly infectious pathogens, continues to spread around the US. Since October, the disease has infected hundreds, brought conflict, and birthed new arguments about the necessity of vaccination.

The disease spread from an infected charity worker, who traveled from Brooklyn to New York for his next fundraiser. Being infected, he felt sick and went to see a doctor, who, never having experiences with measles, diagnosed him with bronchitis. Over the next two weeks, he spread the disease to 39 individuals. These close knit-communities provide an optimal opportunity for measles to spread, so far infecting an estimate of 285 people in New York and an estimate 465 people in the United States alone. A man in Israel received worldwide attention after being in a coma for more than 10 days after contracting measles. The spread to Israel raises further conflicts, as the timing correlates with Passover (one of the holiest Jewish celebrations), where families are known to travel to spend time together; officials have warned that the holiday can lead to extreme transmission of the already contagious disease.

“What’s similar about all of these communities is that they live in proximity to each other and spend a lot of their time interacting with each other,” said Daniel Salmon, director of the John Hopkins Institute for Vaccine Safety, to the Washington Post.

This rise in measles cases has directly reflected a drop in vaccination, reinvigorating the debate over anti-vaccination. In an effort to stop the disease from spreading any further in New York, officials declared the outbreak a health emergency, issuing a local mandate shot for those in the Williamsburg neighborhood. It was met by a lawsuit filed by an organization named the Children’s Health Defense, for its violation of the rights of individuals who don’t want to be vaccinated, calling the mandate “capricious and exceeding local authority.” They claim that, despite those in the community that were infected, there is no evidence that anyone in the community carries or has been exposed to the disease.

The lawsuit states, “The irreparable harm caused to Petitioners by the emergency Orders is incalculable. Parents, whose religious beliefs are being disregarded, risk becoming criminals if they simply do nothing. They are being threatened with the forced vaccination of their children against their wills.”

New York City health officials advise getting vaccinated and to stay home when feeling ill, to avoid further transmitting the disease.

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