Six cases of childhood measles have been reported in Brooklyn over the last two weeks, the New York City health department said Friday, contributing to a spike in measles cases this year.
The health department usually sees four to six cases of measles per year in years when there are no outbreaks, said Susan Craig, a spokeswoman for the department. There were recent outbreaks in 2008, when there were 30 cases, and 2009, with 18 cases. Last year there were six cases. So far this year, there have been 24 cases.
The latest outbreak took place within a close-knit Orthodox Jewish population in Brooklyn, officials said. There have been similar outbreaks among Orthodox Jews in the past. Some of the children had not been vaccinated, perhaps because of a preference within the community to delay vaccination, health officials said.
At least two of the cases are directly related, and it is suspected that all are related, “with unknown common exposures,” Ms. Craig said.
She said the health department had put out an alert to doctors because it is the middle of a Jewish holiday season, raising the risk that children may be exposed to measles through large gatherings and holiday parties.
“Measles is a highly infectious and potentially life-threatening disease,” Dr. Jay Varma, the city’s deputy commissioner for disease control, said in an e-mail Friday. “Because it is so easily transmitted from one person to another, we continue to see outbreaks in communities where parents delay vaccinating their children.”
Children are supposed to routinely receive the first dose of measles vaccination at 12 months and the second dose at 4 to 6 years old.