TRENTON, NJ — Anyone at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, March 12 between 12:45 and 9 p.m. might have been exposed to measles and should contact their health care provider, according to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDH).
The NJDH has issued a public health alert after a child with a confirmed case of measles—a highly contagious disease—arrived in Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport from Brussels and departed for Memphis from Terminal C. The child was infectious on March 12 and may have traveled to other areas of the airport, according to NJDH.
Should anyone develop symptoms of measles, which could develop as late as April 2, they should call a health care provider before going to a medical office or emergency department. Special arrangements can be made for evaluation, while also protecting other patients and medical staff from possible infection.
Measles symptoms include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. It can cause serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Measles infection in a pregnant woman can lead to miscarriage, premature birth or a low-birth-weight baby.
NJDH explains that measles is easily spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. People can also get sick when they come in contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person.
New Jersey residents identified as potentially exposed on the ill individual’s flights are being notified by their local health department.
Anyone who has been exposed is at risk i he or she has not been vaccinated or has not previously had measles.
Two doses of measles vaccine are about 97-percent effective in preventing measles, said state epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan, M.D.
“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," she said. "Getting vaccinated not only protects you, it protects others around you who are too young to get the vaccine or can’t receive it for medical reasons."
The World Health Organization recommends that adults or adolescents unsure of their immune status who are planning an international trip to get a measles vaccine before traveling, Dr. Tan added.
Information on what to do if you’ve been exposed to measles is available on the state Department of Health website by clicking here.