Listen: Measles, Detroit And US discussed on Press Play with Madeleine Brand
"Pace to break. The record for the most measles cases in a single year since the disease was eliminated two decades ago. Health officials are reporting five hundred fifty five cases so far this year and officials have identified a patient zero for one of the major outbreaks last November a man flew from Israel to Brooklyn, which was in the midst of a measles epidemic from there. He traveled to Michigan visiting ultra-orthodox Jewish communities unknowingly bringing the virus with him he stayed in private homes. She stopped by multiple synagogues, and ultimately infected thirty nine people in the Detroit area. Well here to talk about this and the nationwide outbreak is Lena sun health reporter for the Washington Post and welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. So could you I give us a big picture of measles nationwide right now. Well for the third week in a row US health officials have added dozens of new reports to the. The years list of confirmed measles cases, they are in twenty states. But the six current outbreaks are in California, New jersey, New York and Washington states and the biggest one is in the New York area concentrated in New York City's ultra-orthodox Jewish community. And of course, one of the real issues with measles is just how infectious it is. So if a an infected person walks through a room, how likely are you to contract measles? If you're not vaccinated, if you're not vaccinated, and you're in that same room up to two hours after the infected person has walked through you have a ninety percent chance of getting measles. Think about it. It is an exquisitely contagious disease, and what's the center for disease control telling people to do right now. You've been given the speed of of these cases the rate, I think they're urging everyone to get vaccinated. And especially if you're. Talking about travel during spring break or summer vacation to go to Europe or many of these other places where there are major outbreaks. It's important to get vaccinated usually children are vaccinated starting at twelve to fifteen months, but they say that if you're going to be traveling you can get the baby in vaccinated as early as six months. And now international travel. It's always a prime vector of measles in that that figures into this patient zero story to that. We're about to talk about remind us why that is that a lot of these start with travel travelers visiting the United States or US residents returning from abroad because right now around the world. There are measles. Outbreaks in many, many parts of the world, the W H O has just come out with a report that says measles cases increased three hundred percent worldwide in the first three months of twenty nineteen compared to the first three months in twenty eighteen many countries in Europe, big parts of Africa, south East, Asia, Japan. All have measles cases. Africa had the biggest rise in measles cases. And in Madagascar, for example, where infrastructure is a big challenge. They twelve hundred people have died from measles. And that's because they're fewer people who are back stated in a bright. And and. I understand. It's very easy to drop below the level of immunity if more and more people don't vaccinate, right. So because measles is so infectious in order for a community to pay protected you need to have ninety six percent of that community vaccinated or higher. So that's to protect against kids who are too little to be vaccinated or people who are immune compromised and can't get the vaccination that's something called her immunity. But it's a better way to think about it is community immunity, and every disease is different, but measles requires a really really high level. So you just have to slip below ninety something percent. And you lose that protection. And let's talk now about the Michigan's patient zero. And you've tracked the story. So this man, flew to the United States from Israel. And he was. Raising money for charity in different orthodox communities starting in a York, tell us what happened next he stayed in Brooklyn for about two months, and he was fundraising and he in early March decided to travel to the Detroit area, he drove overnight through the night. And he was beginning to feel sick on route and a doctor when he arrived in the Detroit area, but the doctor like many doctors these days had never seen measles. He did misdiagnose the man's fever and cough as bronchitis and gave the man and antibiotic and next day the man complained about having a rash. And the doctor thought always having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. When in fact, the man was having the measles. Telltale rash? So you are infectious with measles four days before the rash and four days afterward and all that time when the man. Within the Detroit area. He had been living in people's homes going to synagogue, sometimes three times a day shopping. Kosher markets, and in very close proximity to hundreds and hundreds of adult is it relevant that this is all happening within an orthodox community. How does that factor into patients zero story? I think what's important to remember is that many communities whether orthodox Jewish or faith Christian or some Molly or eastern European when you live in proximity to one another and spend a lot of time interacting working and socializing. It doesn't really matter. What your cultural heritage is? Or your ethnicity is the fact that you're all tightly together, and that is how disease travels measles doesn't care. They just want to infect as many people as possible. So once diagnosed how did how? Officials react and snap into you know, epidemic mode. So when the health department got a call from the doctor saying that they suspect a case of measles with the man's contact information, they tried to reach the man the man cell phone was had a corrupted sim card. So it wasn't working."