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Health Alert: Child with Measles Traveled to Newark Airport on March 12

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TRENTON, NJ — If you were at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday, March 12 between 12:45 and 9 p.m., you may have been exposed to measles and should contact your health care provider.

The New Jersey Department of Health 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, the department of health said.

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If you develop symptoms of measles, which could develop as late as April 2, call a health care provider before going to a medical office or emergency department, the department of health said. Special arrangements can be made for evaluation, while also protecting other patients and medical staff from possible infection, it said.

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), according to the department of health, and measles infection in a pregnant woman can lead to miscarriage, premature birth or a low-birth-weight baby.

According to the department of health, measles is easily spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes and 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, it said.

If you have been exposed, you are at risk if you have not been vaccinated or have not had measles, the department of health said.

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. 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,” she said.

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 here: www.state.nj.us/health/cd/documents/topics/measles/measles_exposure_guidance_public.pdf

 

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