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Growing New York Measles Outbreaks leave students in worry

By Brendan Kaufman, Staff Writer

Measles is a highly contagious airborne disease. The disease causes a variety of symptoms ranging from short-term symptoms such as fever, scratchy throat and dry eyes, to much more life-threatening long-term symptoms such as Pneumonia or Encephalitis. It mostly spreads through younger children and poses a large threat if they aren’t properly protected from the disease. In 1963, a measles vaccine was created and case numbers have dropped dramatically since.

However, throughout 2024 seven different outbreaks of measles have popped up in the United States, totaling more than 110 cases. The state of New York is home to around one to nine of these measles cases and that number is set to grow slowly but surely over the ensuing days.

Some people wonder how a disease that was mostly eliminated from the U.S. could suddenly pop back up in recent years. Senior social work major Beck Farrell believes it has to do with a change in the modern mindset towards diseases.

“Unfortunately, I know a good amount about measles and what’s going on with measles right now,” Farrell stated. “I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people aren’t vaccinating their kids for this really scary and threatening disease. I currently have a small child in daycare and the thought of measles is very concerning to me.”

Not every student is as aware of the threat of measles, as freshman psychology major Abigail Sosa-Flores weighs in with a different perspective on the disease.

“I don’t really know anything specific about measles,” Sosa-Flores said. “I know it can be threatening to people and that I got the vaccine for it when I was young, but I don’t know the details. It is pretty scary that it’s popping back up again though.”

 Most of the concern for the outbreak lies within those who either have young children or those who don’t understand the threat of measles. Farrell elaborates more on her concern for the disease’s sudden increase in cases.

“It’s especially concerning how much it’s increased with the disinformation regarding the disease,” she said. “Both information regarding it and the vaccine for it should be more public knowledge and people should be listening for this one. If the disease was almost eradicated, maybe we should’ve kept it like that, you know?”

Photo credits: Wall Street Journal

For those who do not fall into those two categories, however, the concern is much lower in regards to the outbreaks. Sosa-Flores believes that the outbreaks won’t cause too many problems in the long term.

“I know I got vaccinated when I was little,” she said. “Personally, I think it’s not gonna be a huge thing and I’m not too concerned about people around me getting sick with it since they also all got the vaccine. It’s probably a bit scary for the people who don’t have it though.”

The primary method of preventing measles in the first place is to receive a vaccination for the disease, usually at a young age. However, in recent years fewer people are willing to vaccinate their children against diseases such as measles. Farrell weighs in on those who choose to not protect their children against these dangerous diseases.

“I think a lot of the disinformation about vaccines has been really scary in regards to protecting young children,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who believe that vaccines cause autism or things like that. Considering that it was based on one study that was disproved quite easily, it doesn’t really fill me with a lot of confidence. The best way to prevent the disease is to just get the vaccine and for the people that already have it, just do what we did for COVID. Quarantine for a couple of weeks and make sure to take care of yourself until the symptoms subside.”

Sosa-Flores shares a similar point of view when it comes to preventing the spread of measles.

“The easiest way to not let people get measles is to just get the vaccine,” she said. “I know measles is a big threat to people’s health now and if you have some sort of pre-existing issue, then it would just make that worse. It seems a lot easier and safer to just get vaccinated. In an ideal world, that’s just what would happen but in today’s day and age it seems like no one wants to get vaccinated anymore.”

The current outbreaks of measles are small in number and those who have protected themselves with the vaccine are unlikely to be in any danger of it. However, the number of cases is continuing to rise and it may reach a breaking point where people’s loved ones and close friends have to contend with this extremely dangerous disease.

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