A measles-infected Hasidic man traveled from Brooklyn to Michigan, unknowingly becoming Patient Zero in the Midwest by spreading the disease to 39 people before frantic health officials tracked him down, a report said Tuesday.
Shortly after setting out on a cross-country charity fundraising trip last month, the man felt ill and stopped in to see two different doctors along the way, Michigan health authorities told The Washington Post.
The first doctor misdiagnosed the traveler’s cough and fever as bronchitis, while the second shrugged off his rash as an allergic reaction, the report said.
But as the latter doctor thought about the symptoms, he worried that the man — whom officials didn’t publicly name — might have measles and gave the man’s cellphone number to the local health department, the report said.
Health officials frantically tried to reach the walking biohazard, but couldn’t get through because of an issue with his cellphone, kicking off a frenzied street-by-street search through the Detroit area’s Hasidic enclave.
With the help of rabbinical leaders and a longtime member of the local Hatzolah chapter — who thought to look for the man’s blue rental sedan among the community’s multitude of minivans — they found the man, who was stunned by the diagnosis.
“There is only one disease, and you have it,” the Hatzolah member, Steve McGraw, recalled telling the man through a Hebrew translator, according to The Washington Post. “He put his head down and was very emotional. I could tell from the look on his face that he was devastated.
“He was doing the math in his head.”
Over the course of a week, the man had bounced from synagogues to kosher restaurants to the homes of community members who put him up for a night, contacting hundreds of people that health officials now had to track down and test.
“This guy was walking around all over the community and contagious,” McGraw told The Washington Post. “We knew we had a really significant exposure.”
All told, 39 cases were confirmed in Michigan, all among people who had links to the traveler, the report said.
The original carrier had traveled in November 2018 from Israel to Brooklyn, the familiar route by which officials believe the current outbreak came to US soil.
Efforts to curtail the contagion, particularly among Brooklyn’s insular Hasidic enclaves, have been met with fierce resistance by parents dubious of the health effects of the measles vaccine.
Mayor Bill de Blasio last week declared a public health emergency and gave people connected with four predominantly Hasidic Brooklyn ZIP codes 48 hours to get vaccinated or face a $1,000 fine.
Still stonewalled by some, the city Health Department on Monday shuttered a Williamsburg yeshiva’s preschool program because they refused to turn over inoculation records.
Source: Read Full Article