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Princeton student has suspected case of measles, school says

Posted at 1:12 PM, Feb 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-19 13:14:21-05

PRINCETON, N.J. (PIX11) — An undergraduate student at Princeton University may have measles and additional tests are underway to determine if the illness was in fact the highly contagious virus, the school said this week.

The student, who was not identified, has since recovered and is no longer contagious, no matter what illness she or he was suffering from, school officials said.

Administrators at the Ivy League campus sent a message to students, faculty and staff Wednesday alerting them.

Measles starts as a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat, and is followed by a rash that spreads over the patient’s body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It easily spreads from person to person through the air when a patient coughs or sneezes.

The measles virus can live on surfaces and in the air for up to two hours. A patient is contagious from four days before through four days after the onset of a rash.

Students, faculty and staff at Princeton who were in the following spaces between Feb. 4 and Feb. 8 should check their vaccination records and contact their doctor if they have any concerns, the school said:

  • 1938 Hall
  • Baker Hall
  • Blair Hall
  • Frick Chemistry building
  • Friend Center
  • Holder Hall
  • McCosh Health Center
  • Spelman Hall
  • Wallace Hall
  • Whitman College dining hall
  • and evening and weekend hours in Frist Campus Center, Dillon Gymnasium and New South.

In 2000, the sometimes-deadly illness was declared eliminated in the U.S. thanks to the vaccine and until recently, it was unusual to see more than 100 measles a year in the country.

But just this week, the CDC announced that this year’s tally of measles cases in the U.S. has swelled to at least 141, with most of the new illnesses tied to outbreaks in California’s Disneyland and an Illinois day care center.

Most of the people who have contracted the illness were not vaccinated, the CDC said.

A visual tally of measles cases across the U.S. between Jan. 1 and Feb. 13, 2015. (Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

A visual tally of measles cases across the U.S. between Jan. 1 and Feb. 13, 2015. (Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Princeton officials said nearly all students — 99.5 percent — have been vaccinatded against the virus. But while the vaccine is “very effective,” in rare cases, individuals who have been innoculated can still contract the illness.

If someone visited those areas during the specific time period given by the school and is showing symptoms consistent with measles, they should call their doctor or emergency room before they go in to be looked at. That way, the facility can take the proper precautions ahead of time.

Students can call the  McCosh Health Center at 609-258-3141 during business hours or 609-258-3139 after hours.