News, Culture & Society

New Jersey synagogue congregation may have been exposed to measles

New Jersey synagogue congregation may have been exposed to measles after infected person visited three times

  • The unidentified New Jersey resident visited Congregation Belz in Lakewood on July 10, July 11 and July 12
  • Health officials say anyone who was in the synagogue between 7am and 10am on any of those days may have been exposed 
  • This case marks the seventeenth in New Jersey and the second in Lakewood this month
  • As of Monday, the CDC has confirmed 1,164 cases of measles across 30 states

An entire synagogue congregation in New Jersey may have been exposed to measles, health officials warn.

The unidentified person visited Congregation Belz in Lakewood on July 10, July 11 and July 12, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.  

Officials said in a release that anyone was at the synagogue between 7am and 10am on any of those days may have been exposed to the highly infectious disease.

It’s possible that someone who was infected at Congregation Belz doesn’t develop symptoms until as late as August 2. 

This is the 17th confirmed case in New Jersey in 2019 and comes as the largest outbreak of measles in the US since 1992 continues to sweep the nation.    

Health officials say a New Jersey resident who contracted measles visited Congregation Belz in Lakewood three times, potentially exposing the entire synagogue to the infectious disease (file image) 

Currently, the state health department and the Ocean County Health Department are working ‘to identify and notify people who might have been exposed during the time the individual was infectious’.

State epidemiologist Dr Christina Tan added in a statement: ‘Anyone who has not been vaccinated or has not had measles is at risk if they are exposed.’ 

This is the second measles case reported in Lakewood in the last month.

Less than three weeks ago, health officials warned that anyone who visited the Center for Health Education Medicine and Dentistry on July 10 between 1.45pm and 6pm may have been exposed.

As of Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed  1,164 cases across 30 states. 

If the outbreak lasts more than a year – meaning it continues into October 2019 – the US will lose its elimination status and will become a country with ‘active’ measles. 

Measles is a highly contagious infection caused by the measles virus.

When someone with measles coughs, sneezes or talks, infected droplets are sprayed into the air, where other people can inhale them and are then infected.

Symptoms present themselves between 10 to 14 days after infection and include fever, cough, runny nose and a total-body skin rash.

For most people, measles is miserable but not life-threatening. A small fraction of people get much sicker, and can suffer complications like pneumonia and brain swelling.

Additionally, measles can cause pregnant women to deliver prematurely.

Once common, the disease is now rare since the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine was introduced in 1963.

The CDC recommends children receive the first dose at 12 to 15 months old and the second dose at four to six years old.

The vaccine is about 97 percent effective. But those who are unvaccinated have a 90 percent chance of catching measles if they breathe the virus in, according to the CDC.

Before the measles vaccine was available, more than 500,000 cases were diagnosed in the US every year, with about 500 annual deaths.

Since measles was considered eradicated in 2000, the highest number of cases occurred in 2014 at 667.

A report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in January said measles has seen a 30 percent increase in cases around the world.

WHO also revealed that nearly 83,000 people contracted measles in Europe in 2018, the highest number in a decade.


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