Rockland declares state of emergency over measles outbreak


After a NY county declared a state of emergency to prevent the spread of a measles outbreak, why is the once-eliminated disease on the rise again?

A county in New York City's northern suburbs is banning unvaccinated minors from public places to fight a measles outbreak that has infected more than 150 people since October.

Of course, there's no practical way to enforce the measure.

"We believe this to be the first such effort of this kind nationally and the circumstances we face here clearly call for that", said Rockland County Executive Ed Day. Officials just want to make sure parents know how serious things are in Rockland. The goal isn't to make arrests, but to bring attention to the issue, he said. The minors will be banned until the declaration expires in 30 days or until they receive the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination.

County Executive Ed Day explained: "We must do everything in our power to end this outbreak and protect the health of those who can not be vaccinated for medical reasons and that of children too young to be vaccinated".

"This is a public health crisis and it is time to sound the alarm and take the appropriate action", Day said. There have also been at least 181 confirmed cases of measles in the NY boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens since October, mostly among Orthodox Jews, according to the city's health department.

"I think that something needs to be done that has to be very drastic, that people need to comply and we've got to stop this", said Rockland resident Renee Kahan, who stopped by the clinic for a booster shot.

Parents and guardians will be held accountable if any violation is found and their cases will be referred to the district attorney's office, according to authorities.

Almost 17,000 vaccinations have been administered in the county during the outbreak. "We're now seeing pockets of resistance".

The outbreak began when a traveler visited Israel and returned to a predominantly ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Rockland County. During the outbreak, more than 17,000 vaccinations have been given in the county, according to CNN.

The county is now experiencing its longest outbreak since 2000, with most of the cases involving members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

Officials say the measles outbreaks offer a lesson about the importance of maintaining a minimum 95 percent "herd" level of immunization against risky, preventable diseases such as measles.