The New York State Department of Health announced this weekend that two tourists from Europe who have been confirmed to have measles visited a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn on April 15th and toured two separate Watchtower facilities in Orange and Putnam counties on April 16th and April 17th potentially exposing others to measles. The risk of developing measles is very low for people who have been vaccinated or are immune.
Anyone who visited the following locations may have been exposed
- Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 873 New Jersey Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 15, 2018
- Watchtower World Headquarters, 1 Kings Drive, Tuxedo Park, NY, between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on April 16, 2018
- Watchtower Educational Center, 100 Watchtower Drive, Patterson, NY, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on April 17, 2018
These times reflect the period that the infected individuals were in these areas and a two-hour period after the individuals left the area, as the virus remains alive in air and on surfaces for up to two hours.
Individuals are considered protected or immune to measles if they were born before 1957, have received two doses of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, have had measles disease, or have a lab test confirming immunity. Individuals who are not immune to measles and were exposed are at risk for developing measles. Those individuals without immunity or who are not sure if they have been vaccinated, should contact their health care provider if they develop measles symptoms. Symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis or runny nose. Symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as 7 days and as late as 21 days after exposure.
To prevent the spread of illness, the Department is advising individuals who may have been exposed and who have symptoms consistent with measles to contact their health care provider, a local clinic, or a local emergency department before going for care. This will help to prevent others at these facilities from being exposed to the illness.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people. People first develop a fever, then may have a cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by appearance of the rash. People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash.
The single best way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated. Individuals should receive two doses of MMR vaccine to be fully protected. If a person is unsure if they are immune they should contact their healthcare provider. Typically, the first dose of MMR vaccine should be given at 12-15 months of age and the second dose should be given at four to six years of age (age of school entry), although individuals may also be vaccinated later in life. In New York State, measles immunization is required of children enrolled in schools, daycare, and pre-kindergarten. Since August 1990, college students have also been required to demonstrate immunity against measles.