Measles Outbreaks In NY’s Orthodox Jewish Communities On The Rise

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Two separate measles outbreaks in Brooklyn and Rockland County are centered in Orthodox Jewish communities, prompting the Health Department to step up efforts in educating people about the importance of vaccinations.

Currently, there are 143 reported cases in Rockland County and 121 in Brooklyn. The majority of cases are affecting children under the age of 18.

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, who heads disease control for the city’s Health Department, says the issue has grown exponentially because of parents who do not vaccinate citing religious reasons.

Additionally, the Orthodox Jewish communities are still being bombarded by anti-vaccine propaganda, according to Blima Marcus.

 “People here are being targeted specifically with anti-vaccine literature,” Marcus explained. “Magazine are being dropped off on doorsteps, people are finding them when they get their groceries delivered.”

Marcus teaches nursing at Hunter College and is ultra-Orthodox herself, which is why she’s working tirelessly to convince parents to vaccinate their children.

“We try to provide a listening ear and some validation, but at the same time we respond with what the literature actually tells us,” she told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

Measles is a highly-contagious, airborne virus that easily spreads through coughing and sneezing. It causes fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat, followed by a rash.

Measles had once been rare in the United States because of high vaccination rates, but a rise in “anti-vaxxers” – who claim the MMR vaccine is linked to autism – has caused the disease to once again spread.

A study published Monday confirms there is no link between the vaccine and autism.