NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City has issued civil summonses to 12 people it said were not complying with a mandatory measles vaccination order as the number of recorded cases in the city’s worst outbreak since 1991 rose to 390, according to data released on Wednesday.
The city’s outbreak of the highly contagious and sometimes deadly virus began last October and has been largely confined to children in Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn.
Two of the 61 additional cases confirmed since Thursday are in pregnant women, the city’s Health Department said in a statement.
The Health Department took the unusual step earlier this month of issuing an emergency order requiring unvaccinated people in affected neighborhoods to get the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine unless they could otherwise show they had immunity.
The 12 people issued summons for defying the order must attend a hearing and face a fine of up to $1,000 if found to be noncompliant.
The outbreak in New York City is the largest of several nationwide, with 2019 on track to break the record for the most measles recorded in the United States in a year since the country declared the disease eliminated in 2000.
That declaration meant that the virus was no longer present year-round. Outbreaks still occur, typically when travelers bring the virus into the United States from countries where measles is still common.
Since Jan. 1, there have been 626 measles cases recorded in 22 states as of April 19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week. None of the cases have been fatal. The highest number of annual cases since 2000 was 667 recorded in 2014.
New York City’s tally includes cases recorded in 2018 after the outbreak began in October.
About 72 percent of the U.S. cases so far this year have been in unvaccinated people, and 10 percent in people who have at least one dose of the vaccine, with the remaining 18 percent among people whose vaccination status is unclear, CNN reported this week.
A vocal fringe of parents in the United States oppose vaccines, believing, contrary to scientific evidence, that ingredients in them can cause autism.
According to the CDC, the worst post-2000 measles outbreak was recorded in Amish communities in Ohio, affecting 383 people. The New York City outbreak now surpasses that, according to the city’s data.
A group of anonymous people who said they were parents of children living in the affected Brooklyn neighborhoods unsuccessfully sued the city last week, arguing that the vaccination order was unconstitutional. A judge upheld the city’s order.
12 Defy New York City Measles Vaccination Order