The individual who tested positive for measles in Massachusetts, a student from Western Europe, not only traveled around Massachusetts and areas of Maine possibly exposing the public to the contagious virus, the person also traveled to New Hampshire, according to state health officials.
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is investigating the possible exposure.
The only known public exposure site in New Hampshire was the Flatbread Company restaurant in Portsmouth on April 20th between the hours of approximately 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM. There are no cases identified related to this situation, and New Hampshire is well protected from widespread measles transmission due to a high vaccination rate in our school-aged children, including a more than 96% measles vaccination rate in preschool children.
“We are still in the early stages of investigating, but we do not anticipate a large outbreak because of the high vaccination rate of people in the State,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, State Epidemiologist. “But it is possible there could be cases in New Hampshire related to travel by this individual. It is a good time for people to check their own vaccination status if they were born in or after 1957.”
NH DHHS recommends that all people review their vaccination status with their healthcare providers to ensure adequate immunity to measles. DHHS is asking anybody who was at the restaurant during the above time frame, who was born in 1957 or after, and who has not been adequately vaccinated for measles or found to have evidence of measles immunity to contact the DHHS Division of Public Health Services at 603-271-4496 to discuss risks of infection and transmission of the virus.
Measles is caused by a virus that is passed from person to person through the air when someone with the disease sneezes, coughs, or talks. It is very easy for individuals who have not received the measles vaccine to contract it from someone else. The measles virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after an infected person visits and leaves and area. The above time frame for exposure at the Portsmouth restaurant includes this two-hour window after the infectious person left the restaurant. The incubation period for measles from the time of exposure is typically 10 to 14 days, but can be as long as 21 days.