Those 86 locals exposed to measles? That’s not the whole story
LAKEWOOD — The number of people exposed to measles late last week could be more than the 86 Ocean County residents at an invitation only-event in New York attended by a person who was contagious.
"The event had 86 Ocean County residents present as well as others who may have been from New York or elsewhere," Ocean County Department of Health Director Brian Rumpf told New Jersey 101.5. Rumpf said that since the OCHD learned of the exposure on Friday, it has reached most of those exposed via telephone but some will have to be notified via letters.
New Jersey Department of Health spokeswoman Dawn Thomas in an email said New Jersey residents who might have been exposed have contacted by their local health departments but the vast majority of those at the event were from Ocean County.
"It's important to note that there haven’t been any additional sites of public exposures to report in New Jersey," Thomas said.
Thomas and Rumpf would not disclose the exact location or nature of the New York event.
Rumpf said attendees of the event did not need to to have come in contact with the contagious individual to have been exposed.
"The potential would have been for everyone at the event to have suffered an exposure," Rumpf said. "It's just the nature of measles where the infection travels through the air that creates that potential exposure. It doesn't need to be direct hand-to-hand contact. Literally if you go into the room for two hours the infected person is there and you are exposed."
The count of cases confirmed in the Lakewood outbreak is 18, with five under investigation, according to Rumpf. Three of the confirmed cases are from the same household in Passaic.
"While it is understandable that many would like to file this outbreak into the history books, we must continue to be vigilant and to take all necessary precautions to avoid an escalation of this measles outbreak," the Ocean County Health Department said in a statement.
Symptoms can show within a week of exposure.
Measles symptoms include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Measles can cause serious complications, such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). In pregnant women, measles can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, or a low infant birth weight.