Public Health Alert: Potential Measles Exposure at Newark Liberty International Airport

The New Jersey Department of Health has issued a warning to Newark Airport passengers who may have been exposed to a highly contagious disease.

According to officials, on Jan. 2nd, an international traveler with a confirmed case of measles—a highly contagious disease—arrived in Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport and departed for Indianapolis from a domestic terminal.

The woman, an Indiana University student who was traveling alone, was infectious on that day and may have traveled to other areas of the airport.

Officials are asking anyone who was at Newark airport on that day between 6:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m, may have been exposed to measles, and if infected could develop symptoms as late as January 23.

Anyone who develops symptoms of measles, the Department of Health recommends that you 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.

Local health departments are also working to notify New Jersey residents who were identified as potentially exposed on the ill individual’s flights.

If you have been exposed, you are at risk if you have not been vaccinated or have not had measles.

"Two doses of measles vaccine are about 97 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, but it also 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.

Information on what to do if you’ve been exposed to measles is available on our website: www.state.nj.us/health/cd/documents/topics/measles/m