State Health Officials Announce Second 2015 Case Of Measles

Recommend checking immunization status and becoming aware of symptoms
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) confirmed today the second case of measles in the Commonwealth this year, in a child visiting Martha’s Vineyard from another state.

State officials highlighted the state’s high immunization rate against measles as a key safeguard.

“A widespread outbreak of measles in Massachusetts is unlikely, largely due to the fact that over 95% of students in Massachusetts have already been vaccinated against the illness,” said Dr. Monica Bharel, Commissioner of Public Health. “As most measles cases in the U.S. have been among unvaccinated people and people who don’t know their vaccination status, it is important for people to confirm their immunization status with their healthcare provider, and for parents to have their children vaccinated with the measles vaccine (called MMR), which is safe and highly effective.”

MDPH urges all those who do not know their measles immunization status to get vaccinated with at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Measles vaccine given within 72 hours of exposure may prevent or modify measles disease, and vaccination beyond this window will provide protection from subsequent exposures.

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will be holding a Measles Immunization Clinic in the Doctor’s wing of the old Hospital on Wednesday, June 24th from 5pm to 9pm. It will be free of charge.

Measles is very contagious. People who believe they have been exposed and may be susceptible, or who are showing symptoms of measles are advised to telephone their healthcare providers before going directly to a healthcare facility.

Possible Public Exposure Sites

A list of known times and dates of possible measles exposures from this confirmed case are shown below. Other exposures are likely to have occurred. The patient is considered infectious from Monday 6/8/15 through Wednesday 6/17/15.

  • West Tisbury Public Library June 8 from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Aquinnah Library Tuesday on June 9th from 3:00 PM – 5:30 PM and Thursday June 11 from 3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
  • Martha’s Vineyard Airport Laundromat in West Tisbury on Friday June 12 from 1:00 PM -5:00 PM.
  • Sharky’s Cantina in Oak Bluffs Tuesday on June 16 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM.
  • Ryan’s Family Amusements in Oak Bluffs on June 16 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM

*Because the measles virus can remain suspended in the air for up to two hours, these exposure periods are based on the known duration of the visit, plus two hours.

MDPH has been in communication with clinicians and health care facilities over the past several months to be vigilant for possible measles cases, a need highlighted since the beginning of a large national measles outbreak associated with a theme park in California.


Early symptoms of measles occur 10 days to two weeks after exposure and may resemble a cold or flu (with fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes), but a rash occurs on the skin two to four days after the initial symptoms develop. The rash usually appears first on the head and moves downward. The rash typically lasts a few days and then disappears in the same order it appeared.

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

People who have had measles in the past or who have been vaccinated against measles per CDC recommendations are considered immune.

CDC Measles Immunization Recommendations

  • Children — should receive their first dose of Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine at 12-15 months. School-aged children need two doses of MMR vaccine.Babies as young as six months who are planning international travel should also get a dose of MMR prior to travel. This dose will need to be repeated once the child reaches 12-15 months.
  • Adults should have at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Certain groups at high risk need two doses of MMR, such as international travelers, health care workers, and college students. Adults born in the U.S. before 1957 are considered to be immune to measles from past exposures, but in situations of exposure to measles may benefit from a dose of MMR vaccine to be safer.

State regulations require certain groups to be vaccinated against measles. Some health care workers and all children in kindergarten — 12th grade and college need to have two doses of MMR vaccine for school entry. Children in child care and preschool need one dose of MMR and childcare workers also need to have one or two doses of measles-containing vaccine, depending on their age and other factors. A blood test that proves immunity can also be used to fulfill this requirement for all groups.

Data collected from school immunization surveys for the 2014-2015 school year indicate higher rates of vaccine exemptions and lower rates of vaccination coverage, including MMR vaccination coverage, on Martha’s Vineyard compared to the rest of the state. Statewide, 95% of kindergarteners are reported as having received 2 doses of MMR vaccine while on Martha’s Vineyard (Dukes County), 89% of kindergarteners are reported as having received two doses of MMR vaccine. Detailed vaccination rates for by school and summary statewide data are available on the MDPH web site here.

Those who are susceptible to measles (including the unvaccinated) who do not receive a dose of vaccine within 72 hours must be excluded from public activities including school or work for 21 days after an exposure.

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