Measles Outbreak: Cases tops 700 in 22 states, most since 1994

ATLANTA, Georgia (WABC) -- The number of measles cases in the United States has topped 700, as new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 704 cases reported so far this year in 22 states.

U.S. health officials say the national tally has already eclipsed the total for any full year since 1994, when 963 cases were reported. There have been no fatalities during the current outbreak, and only three measles-related deaths in the past two decades.

The CDC says 44 people caught the disease while traveling in another country, some of whom triggered U.S. outbreaks. That includes the largest outbreaks, in Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County.

Roughly 75 percent of patients are children or teenagers, and 66 patients have been hospitalized.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day and county Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert joined state lawmakers in Albany Monday to back a measure introduced in the Senate and Assembly that would eliminate religious exemptions for required vaccinations.

Day, who last week issued a second declaration of a local State of Emergency, urged for passage as soon as possible so local officials can "get a grip on this disease."

Day's new emergency declaration does not contain the Measles Outbreak Emergency Directive, which prohibited non-vaccinated persons from entering indoor places of public assembly. That directive was overturned by a judge, and subsequent appeals have been denied.

However, the Rockland County Department of Health will continue to enforce the new Commissioner's Orders that were announced last week, which mandates that anyone with measles or anyone exposed to the illness avoid public spaces or face a $2,000-a-day fine.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 9 ordered adults and children ages 6 months and older who live, work or go to school in four Brooklyn zip codes (11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249) to receive an MMR vaccine within 48 hours or face a summons and a fine of up to $1,000. To date, 57 people have received summonses.

Failing to appear at the hearing or respond to the summons will result in a $2,000 fine.

All yeshivas and child care programs are required to exclude non-vaccinated students and to maintain medical and attendance records on site and provide the health department with immediate access to those records. Five schools had previously been closed, and the health department announced Monday that two additional schools -- Tiferes Bnos on Marcy Avenue and Talmud Torah D'Nitra on Bedford Avenue -- will not be allowed to reopen until the health department reviews and approves a submitted corrective action plan.

For most people, measles is not life-threatening. The most common symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. However, a very small fraction of people can suffer complications like pneumonia.

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