Friday, July 3, 2009

Measles in Brooklyn

I don't know why they waited so long with the health alert, but here it is:

A measles alert was issued yesterday by the city's Health Department after an outbreak of 11 confirmed cases and one suspected case, all in the Williamsburg and Borough Park sections of Brooklyn.

The 12 cases identified over the past two months involve 10 children, between the ages of 8 months and 4 years, and two adults, according to the Health Department.

The alert sent to physicians and other health-care providers states that "most of the cases have had a close contact with each other" and that "in one instance, transmission may have occurred in a physician's waiting room." None of the 12 had been vaccinated.

The cases are still under investigation and officials were sketchy on details.


Dr. Jane Zucker, an assistant health commissioner with the bureau of immunization, acknowledged that some parents have expressed concern about the measles vaccine and want to wait until their children are 3 or 4 years old. But she cautioned against such delays.

The advisory urges doctors to be alert for measles symptoms and immediately report clinically suspect cases to the department.

My bold: this is why I think that delaying MMR until the age of 3 or 4 is dangerous.

Note that once again measles appear to have spread in a doctor's waiting room - if I was a pediatrician, unvaccinated patients would make me nervous, too (see my earlier blog on SSPE in children who caught measles as babies in their pediatrician's waiting room - that fate is still looming over the children in Brooklyn).


  1. Catherina, given the locations I suspect that these outbreaks occurred in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. Measles may have been spread due to frequent travel between Brooklyn and Jewish communities abroad, particularly in Jerusalem and London where rates of vaccination are low for various reasons. (The ultra-Orthodox community in London is centered in Stamford Hill, Hackney--the borough that was home to a major measles outbreak in 2007.)

    As well as highlighting the dangers of delayed vaccination, this shows that American children are not protected by herd immunity when their neighbors are bringing in diseases from abroad.

  2. Why are you writing this blog? You seem biased and angry. What's your motivation to put all this energy into this?