Public Health Alert -- Measles Exposures Related to New Suspect Case; DOH Urges Residents to Get Up-to-Date on Vaccinations (En Español )
The New Jersey Department of Health has identified a third person suspected of having measles who may have exposed additional people at Somerset Medical Center and the public at several locations in Somerset County between March 6 and 12. The suspected case announced on Friday of last week has been confirmed as measles. Initial exposure was through a patient with measles.
Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that can cause serious medical complications. As a result, DOH recommends that anyone who visited the following locations during the dates/times listed below, contact a health provider immediately to discuss potential exposure and risk of developing the illness:
"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. Two doses of measles vaccine is more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles," said Dr. Christina Tan, state epidemiologist.
Anyone who suspects an exposure is urged to call a health care provider before going to a medical office or emergency room. Special arrangements can be made for you to be evaluated while also protecting other patients and medical staff from possible infection. People who may have developed symptoms as early as March 13. Measles symptoms include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.
"If you're planning an international trip, the World Health Organization recommends that adults or adolescents unsure of their immune status get a dose of measles vaccine before traveling," Dr. Tan added.
Measles is easily spread through the air when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. People can also get sick when they come in contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person. Anyone who hasn't been vaccinated or has not had measles is at risk if they are exposed to the virus.
Measles can cause serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain) in 20 percent of patients, especially children under 5 and adults older than 20. Measles infection in a pregnant woman can lead to miscarriage, premature birth or a low-birth weight baby.
DOH is working with local health departments and with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to locate the patient's contacts.
Somerset Medical Center has alerted employees, patients and others who were potentially exposed at the hospital.
For more information about measles, contact your health care provider. Additionally a call center will open tomorrow, Friday, March 15 to answer provider and public questions at 1-866-341 9788.
The call center hours are:
9 a.m. -7 p.m. Friday
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's web site has additional information at www.cdc.gov/measles.