New Jersey health officials warned Friday that travelers flying through Newark Liberty International Airport earlier this month may have been exposed to measles.
An Indiana University student who arrived on an international flight through Terminal C on Jan. 2 was later found to have a confirmed case of measles that was not diagnosed until days later.
The woman, who was traveling alone and was infectious on the day she arrived in Newark, landed in the morning and later departed for Indiana from a domestic terminal. Officials said she may have traveled to other areas of the airport.
The New Jersey Department of Health said anyone who was at the airport between 6:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Jan 2. may have been exposed to measles, and could develop symptoms as late as Jan. 23.
“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, said state epidemiologist Christina Tan.
Local health departments are also working to notify New Jersey residents who may have been potentially exposed aboard the two flights.
Indiana University officials, meanwhile, said they are also trying to identify and notify anyone who may have been in close contact with the student, whose diagnosis was confirmed on Jan. 6.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Newark Liberty, said the airport manager has forwarded the state health department alert to the airport community, including employees and the airlines.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that can 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, officials said. Symptoms of the disease include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes, and can cause serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.
Measles infection in a pregnant woman can also lead to miscarriage, premature birth or a low-birth-weight baby.
Because of the infectious nature of the disease, the Department of Health said anyone who does develop symptoms of measles should call a health care provider before going to a medical office or emergency department.
Tan said two doses of measles vaccine are about 97 percent effective in preventing measles.
For those 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, Tan added.