Two pregnant women have been diagnosed with measles as the city's case total amid the worst outbreak in decades rises to 390, a more than 18 percent increase since last week, authorities said Wednesday.
Of the 390 cases, 83 percent have occurred in the four Brooklyn ZIP codes currently affected by the city's emergency declaration banning people from schools and day cares unless they have had their vaccinations.
The affected ZIP codes, though -- 11205, 11206, 11211 and 11249 -- cover the heavily Jewish Orthodox neighborhood of Williamsburg but also the family-flooded neighborhood of Fort Greene as well as parts of Bushwick. Measles cases have been confirmed outside of those ZIP codes as well, though the lion's share is contained to those areas. Other cases have been in Midwood (4), Brighton Beach (2), Flushing (2), Crown Heights (1), Bensonhurst (1), Far Rockaway (1) and the Hunts Point, Longwood and Melrose section of the Bronx (1).
The order, which was extended unanimously last week, will end when health officials declare the emergency is over, the city has said. It applies to children ages 6 months and older and includes fines for noncompliance.
Officials said Wednesday 12 people have been hit with summonses for noncompliance with the emergency order in the last week or so. Anyone receiving a summons is entitled to a hearing, and should the summons be upheld, he or she faces a $1,000 fine. Failure to respond to the summons doubles the fine.
"We have now identified two expectant mothers who have contracted measles. These cases are stark reminders of why New Yorkers must get vaccinated against the measles as soon as possible," NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a statement. "When we do not get vaccinated, we put our friends, our relatives, our neighbors, our classmates and other fellow New Yorkers at risk. We urgently repeat our plea to every New Yorker, especially those in the affected areas – unless you have a medical condition that prohibits you from doing so, please get vaccinated."
While measles symptoms typically aren't severe -- runny nose, sore throat, dry cough and fever -- doctors don't want people to fall victim to the misconception that it is a trivial and inconsequential disease. Measles can lead to problems like pneumonia, bronchitis, encephalitis -- and as a comatose flight attendant's case has shown, it can threaten lives. Such complications are rare but do happen.
The current outbreak has become the worst national epidemic since 1994, with more than 650 cases reported across the country. New York has accounted for the large majority. Rockland County has been particularly hard hit -- so much so that it took the unusual step of banning unvaccinated minors from public places.
New Jersey also has seen cases. Earlier this week, the state health department said anyone who visited Rosalita's Roadside Cantina in Marlboro Township on Friday, April 19, could have been exposed. See more details here.