CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is investigating after an international traveler, who was visiting Massachusetts and recently traveled to New Hampshire, was subsequently found to be infected with the measles virus.
There are no cases identified related to this situation, and New Hampshire is well protected from measles transmission due to a high vaccination rate in our school-aged children, including a more than 96 percent measles vaccination rate in preschool children. However, DHHS is encouraging people who were at the exposure site during those hours to monitor themselves for symptoms.
Symptoms of measles infection usually begin with high fever, cough, runny nose, and conjunctivitis several days prior to development of a body rash. Anybody who feels sick should call their healthcare provider before going directly to a healthcare facility.
“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.
For more information about measles prevention, download the DHHS Measles Fact Sheet at http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/documents/measles.pdf, visit the DHHS Immunization Program webpage at www.dhhs.nh.gov/immunization/index.htm, and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html.
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