New Jersey health officials are urging residents to make sure their vaccinations are up to date after a Camden County man came down with a probable case of measles last week.
The infected man visited stores in Cherry Hill and Collingswood during the disease’s incubation period last week and over the weekend. Measles is spread through casual contact and in 20 percent of patients can cause serious illness, such as pneumonia and swelling of the brain. New Jersey state epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan said the disease is easily avoided.
“We do know that two doses of measles vaccine is more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles,” Tan said. “It’s important that we encourage people who are unsure of their vaccination status to check with their health-care providers.”
The suggested vaccine schedule calls for two MMR, or measles, mumps and rubella shots for kids: one after the first birthday and one after the fourth. Nine in 10 people nationwide are vaccinated, but health officials don’t know the vaccination status of the infected man.
Drexel University epidemiologist Seth Welles said it is widely assumed that immunity lasts a lifetime, but because there are so few exposures each year that is not known definitively.
“We believe it really confers lifetime immunity, but we really don’t have those long-term studies,” Welles said. “There’s very few infections that actually occur so we really can’t look at the duration.”
New Jersey has had about one case of measles per year in recent years. Earlier this month two women visiting New Jersey from France also had measles symptoms. Those include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.