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Massachusetts reports first case of measles this year

A high school student visiting Massachusetts from Western Europe has been diagnosed with measles, the first reported case of 2015, according to the state Department of Public Health. The Hinton State Laboratory confirmed the illness Tuesday.

Because of high vaccination rates in Massachusetts, health officials consider the disease unlikely to spread. But because the measles virus is airborne and highly infectious — it can linger in the air for up to two hours — health authorities are investigating the immunization status of all those known to have had contact with the student while he was infectious.

Additionally, officials have provided a list of public places where the student went while infectious and urged those who were there to check their immunization status and learn the symptoms of measles: fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes in the beginning with a rash occurring two to four days later.


People who experience measles symptoms should telephone their health care provider before going to a medical facility.

The state has listed these “possible public measles exposure sites” (the time periods represent the known duration of the student’s visit, plus two hours) and the agency to call with questions.

► 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 22: John F. Kennedy Library, Dorchester. Boston Public Health Commission, 617-534-5611.

► 2 to 5 p.m. April 22: Subway restaurant and The Garage shopping center in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Cambridge Public Health Department, 617-665-3800.

► 2:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday: Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester. Gloucester Health Department, 978-281-9771.

► 8:14 a.m. Friday: MBTA commuter rail, inbound from Hamilton Station to North Station, Boston. Boston Public Health Commission.

► 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Friday: Quincy Market; visits to Footlocker and Abercrombie & Fitch; also T.J. Maxx, Boston. Boston Public Health Commission.

► 3:20 p.m. Friday: MBTA commuter rail, outbound from North Station to Hamilton Station. Boston Public Health Commission.


The student, who is staying in Essex County, is recovering, said state health officials, who declined to provide further information.

“Over 95 percent of students in Massachusetts have already been vaccinated against measles, making a widespread outbreak unlikely,” Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said in a statement.

“Fortunately, the measles vaccine (called MMR) is safe and highly effective,” Bharel said.

Early symptoms of measles occur 10 days to two weeks after exposure and may resemble a cold or flu. The rash usually appears first on the head and moves downward. It typically lasts a few days.

People with measles may be contagious up to four days before the rash appears and for four days after.

Felice J. Freyer can be reached at felice.freyer@globe.com.