Patient zero of New York City’s 2013 measles outbreak has finally been found. According to a recent study of the event, a single unvaccinated person would spread the disease.
In 2013, New York experienced its biggest measles outbreak in 20 years, when the disease had disappeared from the country since 2000. A study published on July 30 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics looked at the human and financial consequences as well than at the origin of the contamination.
Patient Zero is a student who in 2013 had returned from London where he was studying to visit his family in the Big Apple. He belongs to the Orthodox Jewish community, in which few people are vaccinated. Quickly, his entourage became contaminated, as did people in other places that he visited.
58 people infected including 45 unvaccinated
The study shows that between March 13 and June 9, no less than 3,351 people came into contact with the virus, 66% of whom had received two doses of the vaccine against the disease. A total of 58 people contracted the measles. Of these, 45 had refused vaccination. In the United States, vaccination is recommended for children by the age of one but it is not compulsory (except to register in some schools). It can be refused for medical or religious reasons.
Measles is a very contagious disease, which is spread by the projection of saliva droplets. One person can contaminate another 15 to 20, even before they develop symptoms. In New York that year, the outbreak causes a case of pneumonia complication and miscarriage in a pregnant woman.
The consequences were also very heavy financially, according to the study, taking care of the epidemic cost nearly 400,000 dollars to the community. Indeed the epidemic has mobilized a large number of health professionals who spent 10,054 hours of work to control it.