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PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT: Potential Measles Exposure at Newark Liberty International Airport

On May 29, 2019, an international traveler who has been confirmed to have had measles — a highly contagious disease — arrived in Terminal B at Newark Liberty International Airport from Tokyo, Japan. The individual was infectious while at the airport and may have exposed others to measles. If you were in Newark Liberty International Airport between May 29 at 5:00 p.m. and May 30 at 3:30 p.m., you may have been exposed to measles and, if infected, could develop symptoms as late as June 20. The individual departed for Quebec, Canada, from Terminal A.

New Jersey residents identified as potentially exposed on the ill individual’s flights will be notified by their local health department. In the event that additional exposures are identified, an update will be provided.

Anyone who suspects an exposure is urged to 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. 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.

Anyone who has not been vaccinated or has not had measles is at risk if they are exposed. “Two doses of measles vaccine is more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles,” said Dr. Christina Tan, state epidemiologist.

“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. 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.

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