The Cambridge Public Health Department has issued an alert about a measles exposure in the MIT area of Cambridge.


On Thursday, May 11, a person with a confirmed case of measles visited the MIT Museum (265 Massachusetts Ave.) from 11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. and Café Spice on the MIT campus from 1:30 p.m.–5 p.m.

Most people are vaccinated against measles through the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. The measles portion of the  vaccine is highly effective: It has 93% efficacy with one dose and 97% efficacy with two doses.

“If you were at one of the MIT locations during the specified time period, we urge you to call your doctor to confirm your vaccination status,” said Claude Jacob, the city’s Chief Public Health Officer and director of the Cambridge Public Health Department.

While fully vaccinated individuals who visited one of the MIT locations on May 11 are at  very low risk of becoming sick, the health department recommends that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals who meet the exposure criteria monitor for symptoms between now and June 1.

In addition, unvaccinated individuals who believe they may have been exposed should avoid public activities through June 1 to prevent potentially infecting others.

Measles virus is a highly contagious virus and spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Measles looks and feels like a cold at first. A cough, high fever, runny nose, and red, watery eyes are common. A few days later, a red blotchy rash starts on the face first and then spreads to the rest of the body.

Unvaccinated people exposed to measles can be infectious up to four days before any symptoms appear. Symptoms usually appear 5 to 21 days after exposure.

“If you develop symptoms of measles, please stay home and call your health care provider immediately,” said Jacob.  He added that if anyone needs additional assistance they should call the Cambridge Public Health Department at 617-665-3826.

Cambridge Public Health Department staff are in the process of speaking to all employees of the MIT Museum and Café Spice who worked on May 11 at the specified times to check vaccination status and offer the MMR vaccine to those who cannot verify immunity.