January 8, 2019 | 11:34am
| Updated January 8, 2019 | 11:58am
New York is battling its worst measles outbreak in decades as the highly contagious disease continues to engulf Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County.
Fifty-five of cases of the childhood virus have affected unvaccinated children in Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Midwood/Marine Park and Williamsburg since October, according to the city Department of Health.
The measles outbreak in Brooklyn began when an unvaccinated child was infected on a trip to Israel, which also is seeing a large spread of the disease.
“Since then, there have been additional children from Brooklyn who were unvaccinated and acquired measles while in Israel,” the Health Department said.
“Children who did not travel were also infected in Brooklyn or Rockland County.”
As of Jan. 2, the startling statistics include 32 cases in Borough Park, 21 in Williamsburg and one each in Bensonhurst and Midwood/Marine Park. Borough Park saw two new cases last week, while Williamsburg had one new case.
In Rockland County, which also has a high Orthodox Jewish population, there have been 105 confirmed cases of measles as of Jan. 4, according to the county.
Early symptoms of measles appear 10 to 12 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Three to five days later, a rash of red spots begins to appear on the face and spread over the entire body.
The virus is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Anyone who is not vaccinated against the virus can contract it at any age, the Health Department said.
Children receive the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine — known as MMR — in two doses, one on or after their first birthday and a second between ages 4 and 6.
“Herd immunity” against a highly contagious virus like measles is only achieved when a high rate — 95 percent, some experts say — is vaccinated.
In Rockland County, more than 80 percent on average had not been vaccinated, according to NBC News. Both doses of the MMR vaccine were administered in three of the cases.
“We have made an incredibly aggressive effort to address this,” New York state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said about the surge in measles infections. “This has been the worst measles outbreak in recent history in New York state.”