The Rockland County, N.Y., woman hadn’t told her obstetrician that she had a fever and rash, two key signs of a measles infection. A member of the Orthodox Jewish community there, she went into premature labor at 34 weeks, possibly as a result of the infection. Her baby was born with measles and spent his first 10 days in the neonatal intensive care unit.
The infant is home now, but “we don’t know how this baby will do,” said Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, the health commissioner for Rockland County. When young children contract measles, they face a heightened risk of complications from the disease, including seizures or hearing and vision problems down the road.
The measles case Ruppert described is just one of many. New York state’s outbreaks, which began last October, have gone on longer and infected more people than any other current outbreak nationwide. More than 275 cases of the disease have been confirmed statewide through the first week of March, primarily in the New York City borough of Brooklyn and in Rockland County towns northwest of the city.
That total makes up about half of the 578 confirmed cases in 11 states that were reported nationwide by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from January 2018 through the end of last month. Washington state, with 76 cases by the end of February, has the second-highest number of cases.