Health officials have traced a Michigan measles outbreak infecting 39 people to a "patient zero" who had traveled from Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to Detroit in March without realizing he was carrying the contagious respiratory disease.
“Every one of our cases has had a link to the initial case,” Leigh-Anne Stafford, the health officer for the Detroit suburb of Oakland County, where all but one of the cases was reported, said, reports The Washington Post.
The traveler, whose name has not been released, was raising money for charity, and when in Detroit attended synagogue three times daily, shopped in kosher markets, and stayed in private homes.
The man saw a doctor when he arrived in Detroit, but the physician misdiagnosed his ailment as bronchitis. He called back to complain of a rash the next day, but the doctor thought he was having an allergic reaction. Upon thinking about the matter, however, the doctor thought of measles and contacted health department officials, who were unable initially to reach the man because of a problem with his cellphone.
It took nearly two weeks for health officials and members of the Jewish community to track the man down, reports The Post.
The case highlights the issue of measles cases being a particular problem among insular communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 75 percent of the cases reported were among groups like Ohio's Amish community, the Somalis in Minnesota, Eastern European groups in the Pacific Northwest, and New York's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
The "patient zero" in the Michigan outbreak had come from Israel last fall to Brooklyn, where he stayed for two months before heading on to Detroit.
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