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Germ police! City disease detectives issue violations to parents of unvaccinated kids - Brooklyn Paper

Germ police! City disease detectives issue violations to parents of unvaccinated kids

Sickness sleuths: City disease detectives have already slapped three parents with summonses for allegedly failing to get their kids vaccinated against the measles virus, pictured here in 3D.
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They’re feeling fined.

Municipal virus investigators are on the prowl for unvaccinated Williamsburg residents amid a growing measles outbreak affecting Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community, and the city sickness sleuths have already slapped three parents with summonses for allegedly failing to get their kids inoculated, according to the Department of Health.

The summonses were issued after Mayor Bill de Blasio and city Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot issued an emergency health declaration on April 9 mandating residents of four Williamsburg zip codes — 11205, 11206, 11211, and 11249 — get their shots of the MMR vaccine, or else face justice at the hands of the Department of Health’s dogged “disease detectives.”

The investigators tracked down the allegedly unvaccinated kids amid some gumshoe investigative work into the outbreak that’s afflicted a whopping 329 people — including 44 additional cases since last week’s emergency order, interviewing measles patients to identify their contacts, before tracking them down and verifying their inoculations are up to date.

Parents of the three unvaccinated kids must appear at a hearing, where they’ll be slapped with $1,000 fines if the violation is upheld.

The city announced the violations the same week that five Williamsburg residents sued the city for the right to not vaccinated their kids, claiming the scale of the measles outbreak does not warrant the city overruling their religious objection to the shots.

And the city is making good on de Blasio’s promise to shut down schools that violated the Health Department’s February exclusion order forbidding unvaccinated kids from attending class, issuing closure orders to four Williamsburg yeshivas, included among a total 23 area academies that have received notices of violation for admitting students without inoculations.

The city allowed another neighborhood school, the United Talmudical Academy, to reopen after ordering it closed on Tuesday for refusing to provide officials access to vaccination and attendance records.

Officials traced the borough’s measles outbreak to a Brooklyn resident traveling from Israel — home to another outbreak of the disease — in October, and so far 25 people have been hospitalized for measles, including six people who required intensive care, according to Barbot.

There have been no fatalities so far, according to the Health Department.

This is the largest outbreak of the measles that New York City has experienced since 1991, according to Barbot, and its spread represents a major spike over the two infections that plagued New Yorkers in 2017.

The highly contagious airborne pathogen produces symptoms including fever, cough, and a runny nose, and can cause diarrhea, ear infection, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death — with about 1 out of every 1,367 kids infected dying due to fatal complications from measles, according to the Department of Health, which also maintains that symptoms can appear anytime from seven to 21 days following exposure.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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