JERUSALEM (JTA) – A three-week-old baby in Israel was hospitalized with measles, becoming the youngest person in Israel to contract the disease. More than 2,000 Israelis have contracted measles so far this year, as the Knesset weighs legislation that would punish parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
The baby contracted the disease from his mother, who was not immunized against measles, a week after he was born. The mother is believed to have contracted the disease from a relative who also was not vaccinated against measles, the state broadcaster Kan reported.
The baby is hospitalized at Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak.
On Wednesday, the Knesset gave unanimous preliminary approval to legislation that would take away tax credits and welfare benefits from parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. It would prevent unvaccinated children and teachers from entering educational institutions during an outbreak.
Earlier this month an 18-month-old girl who contracted measles from her unvaccinated and infected parents died in a Jerusalem hospital.
The outbreak of measles in Israel has been blamed for an outbreak in the haredi Orthodox community in Rockland, New York, which is said to have started when unvaccinated residents visited Israel, contracted the disease there and brought it back to the community.
Meanwhile, on Monday morning Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman told a state committee that the percentage of children in Israel vaccinated against measles stands at 96 per cent.
Ministry of Health Director-General Prof. Itamar Grotto told the committee that the spread of measles was slowing and that the ministry hoped that next month it would see a drop in the number of patients in the country, according to Kan.
On Sunday, the Health Ministry announced that a person infected with the measles had flown on a flight from Romania to Israel on Nov. 20 and that unvaccinated fellow passengers were at risk of contracting the disease. The ministry urged such passengers to seek medical attention.