JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Health officials in Jersey City on Thursday were investigating a suspected case of the measles in a 1-year-old boy who had not been vaccinated.
As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, 14 states have now seen 102 confirmed cases of the measles this year, and New Jersey might soon be added to the list.
The baby who may have been infected has already recovered, according to the Jersey City Department of Health.
But out of an abundance of caution, residents in the building where the baby lives were notified of a potential measles exposure, the department said.
The latest time anyone could come down with the measles as a result of the exposure would be Saturday, the department said.
Measles is easily spread from person to person. Vaccinations are not given until a baby is 12 to 15 months old.
Measles symptoms usually appear in 10 to 12 days, but can show up as late as 18 days after exposure. Symptoms usually appear in two stages.
In the first stage, which lasts two to four days, an infected person may have a runny nose, cough and a slight fever, with reddening eyes and light sensitivity while the fever gradually rises each day until peaking as high as 105 degrees. Small bluish-white spots surrounded by a reddish area may appear on the gums and inside the cheeks.
The second stage usually begins on the third to seventh day, and involves a red, blotchy rash that typically starts on the face and spreads downward and outward to the hands and feet. The rash fades in the same order it appeared.
The spike in measles cases has come in the wake of a nationwide debate about vaccines and concerns that they might cause autism or other disorders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said there’s no evidence vaccines cause such disorders.
All 50 states require children get their shots, but 48 allow exemptions for religious or psychological reasons.
The ongoing controversy over the decision on whether or not children should be vaccinated recently made headlines with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He said there has to be a balance depending on what the vaccine is and what the disease type is.
“All I can say is that we vaccinated ours. That’s the best expression I can give you of my opinion,” Christie said, “But I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things.”
But Christie later clarified his words in a statement, and called vaccinations an important public health protection.
“Vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated,” the statement said.
“What I said was that there has to be a balance and it depends on what the vaccine is, what the disease type,” the governor added.
Measles was virtually eliminated in the United States 15 years ago, but now hundreds of cases have been cropping up across the country. Three cases have been confirmed this year so far in New York.
One of those confirmed New York cases is in Dutchess County, N.Y. The person with measles had traveled on an Amtrak train from Penn Station to Albany and Niagara Falls on 1:20 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25. The other two were in New York City.
A measles outbreak also made national headlines Thursday in the northwest Chicago suburb of Palatine. Five children at a daycare center there – all of them less than a year old – have either been tentatively or decisively diagnosed with the illness. Officials said the source of the Illinois measles infection cluster is unknown, CBS Chicago reported.