The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned the public Tuesday that a Massachusetts resident who had been diagnosed with measles visited two businesses in greater Portland last week, possibly exposing staff and customers to the virus.

Maine health officials said they were notified Monday by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that the individual – the person’s gender has not been disclosed – had a confirmed case of measles.

The infected person visited the Skin Clinic in Falmouth and the Maine Centers for Healthcare Endoscopy in Westbrook on March 27, the Maine CDC said in a news release. The visits occurred between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the CDC said.

The Maine CDC has contacted both businesses and is working with them to ensure that anyone who may have been exposed is notified. Measles is a highly contagious viral disease characterized by fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes followed by a rash that can spread from the head to the trunk to the lower extremities.

“The best protection against measles is vaccination,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett said in a statement. “Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine provides long-lasting protection against measles.”

Maine has one of the highest school vaccination opt-out rates in the nation. Parents are allowed to claim a philosophical or religious objection to vaccines when they enroll their children in school.

The last reported case of measles in Maine was 2017. That individual contracted the disease after traveling overseas.

After an infected person leaves a location, the virus remains alive for up to two hours on surfaces and in the air. The incubation period is typically 10 to 14 days, but can be as long as 21 days. Individuals who were exposed or begin to develop symptoms should  contact their health care provider.

Measles is so contagious that over 90 percent of people who are exposed and are not immune will get the disease.

The Maine CDC in its release said that measles can cause severe health complications that may include pneumonia, encephalitis and possibly death. Measles can be transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Infected people are contagious from four days before their rash starts to four days afterward.

Individual cases of measles were confirmed in 15 states between Jan. 1 and March 28. It is the second greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maine, as of March 28, had not reported any confirmed cases of measles to the federal CDC.

The federal government said that in 2018 the United States experienced 17 measles outbreaks, most concentrated in the state of New York, New York City and New Jersey. The outbreaks were traced to travelers who brought back the disease from Israel.

In 2015, the United States experienced a large, multi-state measles outbreak linked to an amusement park in California. And in 2014, the U.S. experienced 23 measles outbreaks, including one of 383 cases that occurred primarily among unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio.

 

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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