Viral violation: More yeshivas defy city orders, allow unvaccinated students in class amid measles outbreak

Measles virus infects 21 victims after leaders of Williamsburg yeshiva allow sick kid in class
Photo by Colin Mixson

Department of Health officials on Thursday announced that leaders of five Williamsburg yeshivas violated an emergency order prohibiting non-vaccinated students from attending school amid a growing outbreak of the measles, which already infected at least 21 youngsters at a sixth yeshiva after educators let a sick kid in class.

The city’s chief physician reiterated the importance of inoculating children against the potentially fatal illness, warning that the disease will continue to claim new victims while Kings County youngsters remain unvaccinated.

“As the city’s doctor, and a pediatrician, I am very concerned that children without the measles vaccination are at unnecessary risk for serious, and potentially fatal symptoms related to measles,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “The outbreak is not over, and we will continue to see additional cases as long as unvaccinated students are not properly excluded from attending school.”

The five new offending yeshivas include:

• Bnos Square of Williamsburg at 382 Willoughby Ave. between Bedford Avenue and Spencer Street.

• Bnos Chayil at 712 Wythe Ave. between Keap and Hooper streets.

• Bnos Chayil at 345 Hewes St. between S. Fifth Street and Broadway.

• Tuferes Bnos at 585 Marcy Ave. between Myrtle and Vernon avenues.

• Sieche Kinder at 808 Myrtle Ave. between Marcy and Nostrand avenues.

And in addition to finding unvaccinated students, city health inspectors found kids infected with measles in classrooms at three of the five. Health Department officials slapped all of the schools with a commissioner’s order, which could lead to fines if the yeshivas’ staff do not follow the so-called “exclusion order” issued in December to stem the spread of the disease.

It is currently too early to tell whether the schools’ indiscretions led to any additional measles cases, according to Health Department spokesman Michael Lanza, who said the audits that uncovered the violations occurred last week.

Thursday’s announcement came weeks after city health officials revealed that educators at Williamsburg’s Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov on Wilson Street allowed a mini outbreak to plague the school, by permitting an unvaccinated, pre-symptomatic student infected with the virus to attend class.

The borough-wide measles outbreak — which officials traced to a Brooklyn resident who contracted the virus in October while visiting Israel, where the illness infected more than 1,000 people — has spread to some 157 local victims, including 137 children, all of whom are members of the Orthodox Jewish community, according to Lanza.

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 of every 1,367 kids infected dying due to fatal complications from measles.

Symptoms can appear anytime from seven to 21 days following exposure, according to the Health Department.

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