Ocean County measles outbreak declared over but risk remains
LAKEWOOD — Ocean County's measles outbreak is considered to be over.
The number of cases remained at 33 since since Nov. 30 with no new confirmations for two incubation periods, or 42 days, according to Dan Regyne, the public health coordinator for the Ocean County Health Department. One remaining case tested negative Tuesday, the last day of the incubation period.
The cases all stemmed from a 27-year-old Lakewood man who had traveled to Israel and was confirmed to have the measles at the end of October. Most of the cases were confined to Lakewood except for three cases in a Passaic family.
"We urge providers to maintain vigilance for suspect cases of measles and have a high index of suspicion for measles in persons with a clinically compatible illness as there might be undiagnosed or unreported cases within the community," Regyne said.
Symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Measles can cause serious complications, such as pneumonia and brain swelling. In pregnant women, measles can lead to miscarriage, premature birth or a low infant birth weight.
Regenye said that those who believe they have may have been exposed to call their medical provider to arrange for an exam, and to not just show up at their office to minimize the chance of exposing others.
The outbreak also sparked a debate about immunization within Lakewood's Orthodox Jewish community. Thousands of residents young and old got their MMR shots to protect against the outbreak after religious organizations issued statements of support for vaccinations and condemned campaigns peddling dubious claims about the hazards of vaccines and scientifically unsupported ties to autism.
The OCHD also issued a statement reminding people that under state law, public and private schools can prohibit unvaccinated students.
The threat of measles still exists in Rockland County, with 114 cases, and Brooklyn, with 58.
"The standard in New York State for declaring an outbreak over is when 21 days have passed since a confirmed case. Our outbreak is continuing with new cases still being confirmed," Rockland County spokesman John Lyons said Wednesday.
The Toms River branch of the MVC was closed for several days because of possible exposure during the outbreak. A New York City party attended by Lakewood residents potentially exposed 86 people to measles but it's not known if any confirmed cases came from that exposure.