For the second time in a week, the New Jersey Department of Health has reported a confirmed a travel-related measles case in the state. The case was confirmed in Passaic County in an unvaccinated seven-month-old infant who traveled internationally. The infant may have exposed others between January 17-23 while infectious.

Image/Jim Goodson, M.P.H.
Image/Jim Goodson, M.P.H.

The infant visited the Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital in Wayne on Jan. 21 from 6:53 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the Pediatric Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson on Jan. 23 from 6:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

People exposed to the infant could develop symptoms as late as February 15. The child is currently recovering at home. The Passaic County is case is unrelated to the recently reported travel-related case of measles in a Hudson County adult male who also was exposed while traveling internationally.

St. Joseph’s is in the process of contacting those individuals who were potentially exposed. The Department of Health is working with local health officials to identify and notify people who might have been exposed during the time the infant was infectious. 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.

“A dose of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for all children 12 to 15 months of age with a second shot recommended at 4 – 6 years of age,” said Assistant Commissioner Dr. Christina Tan, state epidemiologist. “However, the CDC recommends that all people 6 months of age and older who will be traveling internationally be protected against measles.”

Before international travel:

  • Infants 6 through 11 months of age should receive one dose of MMR vaccine. Infants who get one dose of MMR vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose separated by at least 28 days).
  • Children 12 months of age and older should receive two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.
  • Teenagers and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get two doses of MMR vaccine separated by at least 28 days.