NEWARK, NJ — State health officials said any person who was in Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, December 24 between noon and 4 p.m. may have been exposed to measles.
Someone flying from Brussels, Belgium, had the highly contagious infection and arrived in Terminal B at the airport, according to the N.J. Department of Health (DOH). The person, whose name was not released, may have traveled to other areas of the airport.
Anyone who was infected could develop symptoms as late as January 14, the health department said. Symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.
A person who has not received the measles vaccination or ever had the illness is at risk if they are exposed, health officials said.
"Two doses of measles vaccine are about 97 percent effective in preventing measles,” said state epidemiologist Christina Tan, M.D., in a statement. “We urge everyone to check to make sure they and their family members are up-to-date on measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, but it also protects others around you who are too young to get the vaccine or can’t receive it for medical reasons.”
The department urged that anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to call a health care provider before going to a doctor’s office or emergency department. To protect others from the spread of infection, special arrangements can be made for an evaluation.
New Jersey residents identified as potentially exposed on the ill individual’s flights are being notified by their local health department.
This confirmed case and exposure are unrelated to the ongoing measles outbreak in Ocean County, which includes 30 Ocean County cases and three Passaic County cases, said state Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal, M.D.
Measles can easily spread through the air if someone infected coughs or sneezes. Coming in contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person can also spread measles, DOH said.
A measles infection in a pregnant woman can lead to miscarriage, premature birth or a low birth weight, according to DOH.
The World Health Organization recommends that adults and adolescents should check their immune status and get a dose of the measles vaccine before traveling.
Click here to learn more about what to do you suspect you were exposed to measles.