A measles epidemic plaguing Israel’s haredi community has spread to the Jewish community in northern London, British news outlets have reported.
Haredi communities in New York City and Jerusalem have seen a surge in the number of measles infections since the spring, attributed in part to the relatively large number of people in those communities who have not been vaccinated.
By the end of October, nearly 900 cases of measles had been reported in Israel, with roughly 60% of those infected coming from the haredi sector.
The epidemic has since spread to the Orthodox Jewish community in northern London, with dozens of cases reported over the past two months.
Close to 70 members of London’s Orthodox Jewish community have been infected since October, The Times reported. The majority of those infected had not been vaccinated, the report noted.
According to a report by the London-based Jewish Chronicle, the epidemic was spread when local haredi Jews visited Jerusalem for the Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot festival season, then returned to Britain in early October, carrying the disease.
One physician in Stamford Hill, a north London neighborhood with a large haredi Jewish population, attributed the outbreak in part to the lower vaccination rates in the Orthodox community.
“Over the last four to six weeks we’ve known there was a measles outbreak among the Charedi community in Israel. It has now reached our shores,” Dr. Joseph Spitzer said in an interview with the Chronicle.
Vaccination rates are, Dr. Spitzer continued, “definitely lower than the general population and there are lots of reasons for that. Some people will say it is due to the fact that they have large families and therefore they cannot keep up with the immunizations.”
“There is also a little bit of what you might call ‘haredi urban myth’ and a mistrust of the secular authorities.”