Over a dozen cases of measles have been recorded in recent weeks in areas of New York with large Jewish populations, a number of which have been linked to travelers returning from Israel.
The New York City health department last week said six cases of measles were confirmed in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, which has a significant Orthodox community. In nearby Rockland Country, one of the United States’ most densely Jewish populated counties, there were 11 confirmed cases as of Thursday.
The New York State Department of Health last week said the measles cases in Rockland were linked to travelers who returned from Israel, which has experienced a significant outbreak of the disease over the past year.
The cases in Williamsburg were also linked to recent travel to Israel, with city health officials saying the outbreak came after one of the infected children returned to Brooklyn after a trip to the Jewish state.
Since the beginning of the year over 620 Israelis have fallen ill with measles, according to Health Ministry figures, up from 34 a year before, an almost 2,000 percent rise.
At least 19 people contracted the illness in the first 10 days of October.
On Thursday, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman warned he will consider taking measures against families who refuse to vaccinate their children, after the recent outbreak of measles that he said primarily afflicted those who refuse to use the preventative treatment.
The warning came as health officials have pointed to a marked increase in measles cases throughout the country. In the past two weeks the Health Ministry contacted hundreds of families whose children passed through emergency rooms in hospitals where cases of measles were discovered, as well as passengers on at least two flights where an infected person had boarded the plane.