The number of measles cases, primarily among the “ultra-Orthodox” community, continues to rise in Israel and in the New York-New Jersey area. But no cases (at this writing) have been confirmed in Georgia.
As of mid-December, more than 2,300 cases of measles had been reported in Israel this year, while more than 120 were reported in New York and New Jersey.
Recognizing that members of the Orthodox community often travel to Israel and to the New York area, Beth Jacob Atlanta took the lead in late November, informing congregants that people who had not been vaccinated were not welcome. Torah Day School of Atlanta and Atlanta Jewish Academy issued new guidelines to ensure that children enrolled in those schools had been or immediately would be vaccinated.
While the Israel Ministry of Health said that the disease was brought to Israel, U.S. authorities suggested that it returned home with Jews who visited Israel for Sukkot.
Writing to his congregation on Nov. 16, Rabbi Ilan Feldman of Beth Jacob made clear who is responsible for the problem: “This outbreak is due primarily to a small minority of people who refuse to vaccinate their children despite the overwhelming recommendations to do so from the medical community as well as halachic rulings by leading authorities that doing so is a religious obligation, and not vaccinating is a violation of several halachos.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Measles is a disease that can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and even death. It is caused by a highly contagious virus that is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. Signs and symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes.”
As of Dec. 1, the CDC had confirmed 292 individual cases of measles in 26 states and the District of Columbia – but not in Georgia.
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