Concern increases over measles outbreak

A measles outbreak in New York may have reached New Jersey. A man who returned from Israel infected with the disease visited a gym in the Bergen County town of Montvale earlier this month.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can remain alive in the air and on a surface for up to two hours. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red watery eyes and a rash. Measles can have serious complications such as ear infections, pneumonia, swelling of the brain and miscarriage in pregnant women. It is considered the most deadly of all childhood rash and fever illnesses.

According to a report from the New York State Department of Health, since Oct. 4, 17 cases have been confirmed between Rockland County, New York and the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. In Brooklyn, six children were infected by a child who visited Israel, which has experienced an outbreak this year. In Rockland County, five individuals were infected in Israel, and six individuals caught the disease from those five who brought it back. According to the report, an infected individual visited Lifetime Gym in Montvale between 8:30 a.m. and noon on Oct. 5.

New Jersey’s Department of Health advises vaccinating to prevent the disease. The measles vaccine is given in combination with the vaccines for mumps and rubella. The vaccine, MMR, follows a two-dose schedule, with the first shot given between 12 to 15 months of age and the second shot given between four to six years of age.

However, a New Jersey Department of Health spokesperson said the second dose of MMR can be given anytime as long as it is at least four weeks after the first dose. Further, individuals can talk to their doctor to determine which option is best for them and consult their insurance provider regarding coverage of the vaccinations.