Unaware He Had Measles, a Man Traveled From New York to Michigan, Infecting 39 People
Author: Lena H. Sun
The Washington Post
Last month, a traveler raising money for charity in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community drove through the night to Detroit - his next fundraising stop. He felt sick en route and saw a doctor when he got there. But the doctor, who had never seen measles, misdiagnosed the man’s fever and cough as bronchitis.
Over the next two weeks, the traveler would become Michigan’s Patient Zero, spreading the highly contagious respiratory virus to 39 people as he stayed in private homes, attended synagogue daily and shopped in kosher markets. His case offers a cautionary tale about how easily one of the most infectious pathogens on the planet spreads within close-knit communities - especially those whose members live, work and socialize outside the mainstream.
“Every one of our cases has had a link to the initial case,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, health officer for Oakland County, a Detroit suburb where all but one case was reported.