Measles, the serious disease ravaging Orthodox Jewish communities in New York, has spread to 22 states across the U.S. in the worst measles outbreak in nearly two decades.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, authorities have reported 695 measles cases this year, from New Hampshire to Washington state..
Travelers are introducing the disease to new states. All 43 cases in Michigan are the result of one infected man who traveled to Detroit from Brooklyn not knowing he was ill, according to the Washington Post.
And as recently as Thursday morning, authorities in Alabama warned that a traveler passing through the state two weeks ago may have exposed people at two facilities along I-59.
“Measles is not a harmless childhood illness, but a highly contagious, potentially life-threatening disease,” Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar said in a statement on Wednesday. “We have the ability to safely protect our children and our communities. Vaccines are a safe, highly effective public health solution that can prevent this disease.”
The Forward reported last week that doctors in Willamsburg, Brooklyn, where nearly half of the nationwide measles cases have occurred, have had some success vaccinating unvaccinated patients, though hardline vaccine skeptics are digging in.
Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.
Largest Measles Outbreak In Decades Spread To 22 States