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An alert physician at the TEREM urgent care clinic in Jerusalem's East Talpiot neighborhood has prevented the spread of measles by a 22-year-old Satmar hassid visiting from London who came down with the virus before attending a local wedding along with 2,000 others.
The haredi tourist came to the TEREM clinic recently feeling very sick. He had only one of the usual symptoms for measles - a rash - and not the oral sores and eye infections that also characterize the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease. Clinic director Dr. Brendon Stewart remembered reading about a measles outbreak in London on Google Health News Desk a few weeks earlier and figured out that the hassid was one of those infected. Stewart said later that the case proved the importance of doctors being updated by the Internet in diagnosing diseases.
Stewart learned that the patient had never been vaccinated against measles - which become available in 1963 - because his older brother had "reacted badly" to his own vaccination. The man also said that three days earlier, he had attended a mass wedding in Jerusalem's Satmar community, along with a pre-nuptial celebration and a post-nuptial Sheva Brachot that were widely attended.
The TEREM director immediately called Dr. Nitza Abramson, the deputy chief district health officer in Jerusalem, who gave him advice on what to do. Although the Health Ministry said there was a high level of measles vaccination in Jerusalem's haredi community after a special campaign three years ago and that none of them had to be vaccinated as a result of the incident, Stewart noted that the wedding participants came from all over Israel and the world.
The patient was isolated at the TEREM clinic, and his eight-month-old son was given antibodies against measles so he would not be infected, along with others who had been in direct contact with the hassid. The tourist refused to go to the hospital, as he had not taken out traveler's health insurance for his trip, "because he said he had been in Jerusalem before and nothing had happened to him," Stewart said.
TEREM subsidized the treatments because if he were left untreated, he could have been a danger to public health.
Measles kills a million people a year, mostly children in the Third World who suffer from malnutrition, but it can also be harmful to people in the developed world.