New York Times: Jews Catch Measles in Ukraine

From the NYT:

The Ukraine connection

Ukraine is suffering through a measles outbreak that began in 2017. The country has had almost 70,000 cases — more than any other country in recent years.

The infections have not been confined to a particular ethnic group. The country is at war with pro-Russian separatists on its eastern border, distrust in government is high, and rumors about vaccines are rife — one of which began when a 17-year-old died of unrelated causes after getting a shot.

The Ukrainian government also rejected cheaper Indian and Korean vaccines in favor of European ones, but they cost more than the government could afford, Dr. Larson said.

But the real problem appears to have begun at Rosh Hashana.

Each year on the holiday, tens of thousands of Orthodox men travel to Uman, a Ukrainian city where the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, founder of one branch of Hasidism, has become a popular pilgrimage site. (The festivities have been called the “Hasidic Burning Man.”)

Last year, Rosh Hashana fell in early September. Later that month, measles cases exploded in Israel, rising to a peak of 949 in October. The cause? Numerous pilgrims came back from Ukraine with the virus, experts believe.

New York’s outbreak began in October; the first patient was a child in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn who had visited Israel. At the same time, a measles outbreak began among Orthodox Jews in London.

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