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Two Cases of Measles Confirmed in Cambridge

February 7, 2014

The Cambridge Public Health Department announced today that two cases of measles, with no connection to each other, have been confirmed in Cambridge in the past week.

The two infected residents acquired measles during recent international travel. Both individuals are recovering.

Cambridge public health nurses, in collaboration with state health officials, have contacted people potentially exposed to the two individuals, and provided measles vaccination to those who could not verify immunity. Those exposed were also advised to seek medical attention if they developed symptoms of measles.

The health department has also notified Cambridge-area health care providers, requesting that they be on alert for signs and symptoms of measles in their patients and report any potential cases to health authorities immediately.

People who have been appropriately vaccinated against measles or had measles in the past are at little or no risk of developing illness.

Measles outbreaks are rare in the United States. Approximately 175 measles cases were reported nationwide last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Virtually all were linked to people who brought the disease home after foreign travel.

“This is a good reminder to make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date, especially if traveling outside the U.S.,” said Dr. Lisa Dobberteen, medical director for the Cambridge Public Health Department and Cambridge Health Alliance pediatrician. “Vaccinations are the first line of defense against serious, preventable infectious diseases like measles. By getting vaccinated, you are protecting not only yourself, but also young infants, the elderly, and other vulnerable members of our community.”

Measles is an infectious viral illness that is spread through the air when an infected person sneezes or coughs. 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. These symptoms are followed by a rash that usually appears first on the head and face, and then and moves downward on the body.
People with measles may be contagious up to 4 days before the rash appears and for 4 days after the day the rash appears.

In very rare cases, measles can cause serious and even fatal neurological complications.  Young infants and people who are immunocompromised are more susceptible to the complications of measles.

More information about measles is available on the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.

For local information, call the Cambridge Public Health Department at 617-665-3800, and press #3 to reach a public health nurse.

Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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