Health officials in New Jersey warned passengers and others who were inside Newark Liberty International Airport on Jan. 2 that they may have been exposed to measles.
New Jersey warned passengers who traveled through Newark Liberty International Airport this month that they may have been exposed to measles.
The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) said an Indiana University student with a confirmed case of measles was infectious when she arrived in terminal C on Jan. 2 and departed for Indianapolis from a domestic terminal. She may have traveled to other areas of the airport, the DOH said.
The department warned travelers and anyone else who was in the airport between 6:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 2 that they may have been exposed and could develop symptoms as late as Jan. 23. Measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases and can remain infectious in the air for up to 2 hours after a patient leaves, according to the CDC. Approximately 90% of susceptible people with close contact to a measles patient will develop the disease, which can cause serious complications, especially in patients aged younger than 5 years and older than 20 years. The virus is spread through the air or by direct contact with infectious droplets.
Early signs and symptoms of measles appear within 7 to 14 days and include high fever, cough, runny nose and red or watery eyes, according to the CDC. A patient may develop white spots in their mouth and a rash that begins as flat red spots on the face and spreads downward, the agency says.
“We urge everyone to check to make sure they and their family members are up to date on measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations,” Christina Tan, MD, MPH, New Jersey state epidemiologist, said in a statement. “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.”
According to the CDC, receiving two doses of the MMR vaccine is approximately 97% effective at preventing measles, and one dose is around 93% effective. Students at Indiana University are required to have documented proof that they have received two doses before enrolling in their second semester of classes. The university said it requests that all students receive their doses before arriving on campus but that some get them in the following weeks.
According to the university, the infected student arrived before the start of the semester to participate in new student orientation. Indiana University spokesman Chuck Carney would not say where the student was from because of privacy concerns. He said the Indiana State Department of Health notified New Jersey health officials about the case.
According to Carney, the student believed she had received one previous measles vaccine dose, but there was no record of it. She was diagnosed and entered self-isolation on Jan. 6. The university said it was working with county and state health departments to identify anyone who had close contact with the infected student and to implement measures to prevent further transmission. It said it would notify people who may have been exposed and offer them vaccines if needed. Carney said there have not been any subsequent cases at the university.
“The incubation period ends on Jan. 27, so we should be clear if there are no more by then,” he told Infectious Disease News. – Gerard Gallagher
Disclosures: Carney works for Indiana University. Tan is an epidemiologist for the state of New Jersey.