Health officials: Potential exposure to measles in locations in Mass., Maine

BOSTON — State health officials are alerting the public that a person diagnosed with measles in greater Boston went to various locations statewide where others may have been exposed.

The infected person, who was diagnosed on Sunday, traveled to several locations in Massachusetts and also parts of Maine during the infectious period, according to health officials in both states. In Massachusetts, locations include Plymouth, Waltham, Braintree, Framingham, Wellesley and Hyannis. In Maine, locations include Falmouth and Westbrook.

The state says it has notified both facilities and is working with them to make sure people who were potentially exposed are aware. The Massachusetts resident visited the businesses, which are in the Portland area, in late morning and early afternoon.

"The measles virus is currently causing large national and international outbreaks of measles and a lack of vaccination, combined with domestic and international travel, has resulted in the spread of illness,” Dr. Catherine Brown, a Massachusetts state epidemiologist, said in a statement. "Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from this disease."The infected person also visited Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Wellesley on Friday afternoon, Boston 25 News has confirmed.

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A woman, who didn’t want to be identified, told Boston 25 News she was at the medical facility for her annual physical at the same time as the infected person. The woman received a phone call from the facility on Monday to warn her she may have been exposed to the measles.

“Someone in the waiting room with me tested positive for [the measles],” the woman said. “So they actually had me head in and have an MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine even though I was vaccinated as a child.”

Dr. Preeti Mehrotra, Director of Infection Control for Atrius Health Medical, the parent company of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, told Boston 25 News in a statement:

“Atrius Health's first priority is to ensure the health and safety of our patients. We had one confirmed adult case of measles infection at our Harvard Vanguard Wellesley practice and worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. All exposed patients and staff were swiftly identified and contacted as part of our control efforts.”

Boston 25 News asked the state health department why Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Wellesley wasn’t included in a release that listed the places the infected person had visited. A spokesperson told us health care facilities generally do their own notifications.

Measles is very contagious. People who are not immune who visited any of the locations on the below specified dates and times may be at risk for developing measles and is advised to contact their health care provider to confirm their immunization status.

"It’s so contagious, it’s probably the most contagious disease that we know of," said Dr. Larry Madhoff, adding that 90 percent of people who are not vaccinated and exposed to measles will get it.

Those who have not been immunized or do not know their measles immunization status should get vaccinated with at least one dose of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine.

Measles vaccine given within 72 hours of exposure may prevent measles disease, and vaccination beyond this window will provide protection from subsequent exposures.

DPH, local health departments and healthcare providers are working to contact individuals at high risk for exposure.

The Massachusetts locations, including the dates and times, where the infected person may have exposed others include:

Tuesday, March 26:

1:40 p.m. to 4:40 p.m.: KKatie's Burger Bar, 38 Main St Ext, Plymouth

Wednesday, March 27:

8:40 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.: Starbucks, 12 Market Place Drive, Waltham

2:05 p.m. to 4:20 p.m.: Framingham Service Plaza on I-90 Westbound

Thursday, March 28:

8:50 a.m. to 11:10 a.m., Staples, 800 Lexington St., Waltham

9:10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., Dunkin' Donuts, Wal-Lex Shopping Center
876A Lexington St., Waltham

11:55 a.m. to 2:05 p.m., Whole Foods, 990 Lyannough Road, Hyannis

2 p.m. to 4:05 p.m., Target, 250 Granite St, Braintree

The Maine locations where the infected person may have exposed others include:

Wednesday, March 27:

Late morning and early afternoon, Skin Clinic in Falmouth and Maine Centers for Healthcare Endoscopy in Westbrook

Those who were exposed and begin to develop symptoms of measles should call their healthcare provider before visiting an office, clinic or emergency department.

Early symptoms of measles occur 10 days to 2 weeks after exposure and may resemble a cold (with fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes) and a rash occurs on the skin 2-4 days after the initial symptoms develop.

The rash usually appears first on the head and then moves downward. The rash typically lasts a few days and then disappears in the same order. People with measles may be contagious up to four days before the rash appears and for four days after the day the rash appears.

Stephanie Ennis of Plymouth said she's concerned because she is battling breast cancer and just finished a round of chemotherapy. She's worried that someone unknowingly exposed others to the measles.

"I personally fly with a mask on. So, I'm trying to keep myself as safe as I can," Ennis said.

The CDC recommendations are:
•    Children. Children should receive their first dose of Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine at 12-15 months.  School-aged children need two doses of MMR vaccine.  
•    Adults. Adults should have at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Certain groups at high risk need two doses of MMR, such as international travelers, health care workers, and college students. Adults born in the U.S. before 1957 are considered immune to measles from past exposures.

For additional information, contact your local health department or the state DPH at 617-983-6800.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.