"Patient Zero" has spread measles from New York to Michigan



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  • A man traveled from New York to Oakland County, Michigan, and started a measles outbreak there.
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently declared a public health emergency in Brooklyn due to an outbreak of measles. It was centered largely within the neighborhood's ultra-orthodox Jewish community.
  • Between January and April 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 555 individual cases of measles in 20 states in the United States – the second-highest number of reported cases since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.
  • Visit the INSIDER home page for more.

A man nicknamed the "Zero Patient," who spread measles to Oakland, Mich., Was an Israeli traveler who came from New York, according to state health officials.

There have been reports of 39 cases of measles in Michigan this year, according to officials. In addition to the outbreak in Oakland County, there is an additional, unrelated outbreak in Washtenaw County related to international travel. This is the largest outbreak of measles reaching the state in more than two decades.

Patient Zero was originally in New York, where he spent time in Brooklyn's ultra-orthodox Jewish community – the epicenter of a crisis that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio dubbed a public health emergency. As of April 15, there were 329 confirmed cases of measles in Brooklyn and Queens, confined mostly to the Orthodox Jewish community, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

While there is nothing in the Jewish religion that prohibits vaccination, there has been an increase in cases among ultra-Orthodox Jews, who are insular and often distrust the government, health officials told the Washington Post. The anti-vaxxers also introduced a campaign of disinformation aimed directly at the community, complete with phone calls and pamphlets distributed by the neighborhood.

After spending time in Brooklyn, Patient Zero traveled to an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Oakland County in early March. He attended synagogues and studied with others in the area, according to the Detroit Free Free. Leigh-Anne Stafford, an Oakland County health officer, told INSIDER that the patient thought he was immune to the disease.

Stafford said all cases in the county were linked to the initial case of the Zero Patient.

"So it's a very easy virus to spread when you have the disease, which is why we really disclose a lot of education about the importance of knowing the status of your vaccine and what to look for with signs and symptoms," he added.

Between January and April 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 555 individual cases of measles in 20 states nationwide – the second-highest number of reported cases since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.

In addition to Michigan and New York, cases have been reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus and can spread easily when an infected person coughs, talks or sneezes. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and red and watery eyes, and more serious complications such as diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, and swelling of the brain.

Although it was declared eliminated in the US in 2000, according to the CDC, it has re-emerged as a public health threat in recent years, intensified by a growing anti-vaxx movement.

Stafford told INSIDER that most measles patients in Oakland County are adults, adding that since March 13, more than 2,500 people in the county have been vaccinated.

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