CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has identified a New Hampshire resident diagnosed with measles. The infection occurred in a child, and the source of the infection is still under investigation. The child was in the following public places during their infectious period when they could have transmitted the infection to people who are not immune to measles (i.e. those not previously infected or who have not had age-appropriate MMR vaccination):
- The nursery (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.) and coffee hour (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) at the United Church of Christ at 23 Central Square in Keene on Sunday May 12
- The infant/toddler room at the Keene Montessori School on 125 Railroad Street from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Thursday May 16
- The Walk-in Clinic at Cheshire Medical Center at 149 Emerald Street in Keene from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Thursday May 16
Anyone who went to the above locations during the specified dates and times needs to urgently review their measles vaccination or immunity status. People who are not vaccinated or immune, or have questions about their immunization status, are encouraged to contact DPHS as soon as possible. A public inquiry phone line is available from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., including over the weekend, by calling 603-271-9461, or toll-free for NH residents at 1-800-852-3345 ext. 9461. Anyone who was potentially exposed and is not immune may need immediate vaccination to help prevent the development of measles. To prevent the possibility of further spreading the disease, anybody who feels sick should call their healthcare provider before going directly to a healthcare facility.
“Measles is a very contagious disease that can be spread through the air, but the vaccine for measles is very safe and effective. Anybody that believes they may have been exposed at one of the listed locations and is not vaccinated or immune should call the NH Division of Public Health Services,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, State Epidemiologist. “Vaccination within 72 hours of exposure can help prevent disease, but people may still benefit from vaccination even after this time period. For those who are not able to receive the vaccine due to medical reasons, there are other available treatments that can help prevent disease.”
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. The virus can remain infectious in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves the area. It is very easy for individuals who have not received the measles vaccine to contract it from someone else. The incubation period for measles from the time of exposure is 7 to 21 days, typically 2 weeks. Symptoms of measles infection usually begin with high fever, cough, runny nose, and conjunctivitis several days prior to developing a body rash.
NH DHHS recommends that all people review their vaccination status with their healthcare providers to ensure adequate immunity to measles. The measles vaccine (MMR vaccine) is very safe and effective, and more than 99 percent of individuals who receive two doses of the vaccine develop immunity to measles.
Complications: Some people may suffer from severe complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). They may need to be hospitalized and could die. As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children. You can read more on complications of measles on the CDC website.
For more information about measles prevention, download the DHHS Measles Fact Sheet” at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/documents/measles.pdf, visit the DHHS Immunization Program webpage at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/immunization/index.htm, and visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html.