Two confirmed cases of the measles in Massachusetts have been identified as a resident of Framingham and a resident of Spencer who works in Framingham.
State public health officials Tuesday afternoon identified a restaurant in Framingham as a second location where the public was exposed to a confirmed case of the measles on Presidents Day weekend in addition to Trader Joe’s supermarket. Health officials have identified three Framingham exposure locations so far: Trader Joe’s, Samba restaurant, and Bose Corporation headquarters.
A public health alert from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Tuesday afternoon warns that people may have been exposed between the hours of 5:30 and 9 p.m. at Samba restaurant along Route 9 in Framingham on Saturday, Feb. 15. The restaurant is a little more than a mile from the the Trader Joe’s, also located on Route 9, which was the first site of potential exposure identified yesterday.
The Framingham resident went to Trader Joe’s on both Feb. 15 and 16 “for a significant amount of time” said Roberto Santamaria, the deputy director at the Framingham Health Department, in an interview Tuesday afternoon. Health officials are warning residents to be wary of potential exposure if they shopped at Trader Joe’s from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days.
The Framingham resident also visited Samba restaurant for dinner on Feb. 15, but Santamaria said the exposure was minimal and only affected restaurant employees who came into direct contact with the infected individual.
Once the Framingham health department was aware that an exposure had occurred at Trader Joe’s and Samba restaurant on Friday, Feb. 21, officials notified managers of both businesses and displayed physical notices, he said.
Santamaria said that the Spencer resident only went to work at Bose Corporation in Framingham during the four days he or she was infectious.
State health officials notified Framingham Health Department of the confirmed cases on Friday, Feb. 21, according to an official release from the town health department on Tuesday afternoon. In terms of timeline of the disease, that’s more than four days after the public was potentially exposed. Vaccination clinics were held at Trader Joe’s on Feb. 22 and Feb. 24.
“Once it’s exhaled, the measles virus can remain suspended in the air for up to two hours,” said Dr. Deborah Yokoe, the medical director for infection control at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, in an email exchange Tuesday. “Beyond that two-hour period, there is no remaining risk, and there are no steps that need to be taken to clean the environment.”
The measles is a highly contagious disease, but as previously reported, most people in the United States are immune to the measles because they either have had the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, or they were born before 1957 and have developed immunity over their lifetime.
“It’s very contagious, but the vaccine is also very effective,” said Dr. Greg Wallace, an infectious disease expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a phone interview Tuesday. “For those of us who are vaccinated, the exposure is not really a concern, but if you haven’t been vaccinated and are exposed, it’s very contagious.”
Unfortunately vaccination against the measles, usually given in the two-shot MMR vaccine, is only effective at preventing the measles up to 72 hours after an individual is exposed, said Wallace.
Since the exposure occurred more than nine days ago, this is the time when those exposed to the measles might start to display symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes.
“If you were exposed, and have started to show symptoms, contact healthcare provider or health department,” said Dr. Wallace. “You should not go to emergency room or waiting room. Instead, call ahead and they can make arrangements to meet you.”
At this point, it’s really about tracing the locations of the potential exposure to the measles and containing confirmed cases so that more exposures do not occur, said Dr. Wallace.
The Framingham health department is holding a vaccination clinic at Samba restaurant Tuesday evening at 5 p.m.