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UHS takes preventive measures after Ocean County measles outbreak

<p>The measles vaccine is by far the most effective preventive measure that can be taken, said Pletcher.</p>

The measles vaccine is by far the most effective preventive measure that can be taken, said Pletcher.

After a nearby outbreak of measles in Ocean County, N.J., was confirmed by the New Jersey Department of Health, University Health Services (UHS) has been identifying students they believe are particularly susceptible to the measles virus in order to provide them with information on preventive measures via email.

As of Dec. 21, 33 confirmed cases of measles have been identified in association with the outbreak. Thirty of these cases are in Ocean County, and three are in the same household in Passaic. According to UHS Global and Community Health Physician Dr. Irini Daskalaki, there have been no cases of measles on or near campus.

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“We reach out to the people who benefit more from this information,” Daskalaki said. “The goal is to send [...] targeted messages to people who can benefit from knowing what’s happening in our area.”

Specifically, according to Daskalaki, UHS is seeking out students whose medical history shows they are immunocompromised or whose records show they may not be immune to the virus. According to Dr. Jonathan Pletcher, UHS Director of Medical Services, UHS has reached out to dozens of students so far.

Because there are no cases on campus, UHS cannot send out an email to the entire student body, and instead only targets specific students, Daskalaki said.

In the emails to those particular students, Daskalaki shared information on how to identify symptoms of measles and on how to avoid the disease altogether.

According to Daskalaki’s email, the measles virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets in the air.

Following exposure, approximately 90 percent of susceptible persons will develop measles. The incubation period for measles ranges from seven to 21 days. Individuals are contagious four days before through four days after the onset of the measles rash.

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“With a fever, cough, or any kind of rash, it’s always best to get it checked out,” Pletcher said. “If it were to come on campus we’d want to know as soon as possible.”

Pletcher also emphasized that the risk of measles is not just an issue for students, but is also an issue everyone in the University community should be on the lookout for.

“The Orange Bubble encompasses undergraduates, graduates, families; it involves faculty, it involves all the staff,” Pletcher said. “Our effort is towards the community.”

Daskalaki also encouraged students to keep up-to-date by checking in with the emergency preparedness website on measles.

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According to the New Jersey Department of Health, the measles outbreak in Ocean County is still ongoing.

“New Jersey’s measles outbreak will be declared over once two full incubation periods (a total of 42 days) have passed from the last day the last known case would have been infectious,” the New Jersey Department of Health wrote.

UHS Executive Director John Kolligian deferred comment to the Office of Communications and to UHS Director of Medical Services Jon Pletcher. The Office of Communications deferred to UHS.

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