Editor's note: On May 23, the state health department said the child did not have measles, but rather had a rare reaction to the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine. Find that story here.
A state agency announced Sunday morning that a child in the Keene area has been diagnosed with measles and visited three places in the city last week:
The nursery at the United Church of Christ in Keene on Central Square, Sunday, May 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and coffee hour between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The infant/toddler room at the Keene Montessori School at 125 Railroad St., Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cheshire Medical Center’s walk-in clinic on Emerald Street, Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Anyone who went to these spots during these times should review their measles vaccination or immunity status, according to a news release from the Division of Public Health Services at the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.
Vaccination within 72 hours of exposure can help prevent the disease, so anyone who was potentially exposed and isn’t immune should contact the state agency, the release says.
The incubation period after exposure can range from seven to 21 days, the release says. Signs of measles typically start with high fever, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis several days prior to developing a body rash.
Most importantly, the agency emphasizes that anyone with these symptoms who believes they might have been exposed should call their health care provider before going to a medical facility. (Call 911 in an emergency.) Measles is spread through the air and is highly contagious, the release says, noting that the virus can remain “infectious in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves the area.”
State epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said in a phone interview this morning that the state will not release clinical details, such as the child’s age or whether the child was vaccinated for measles, due to confidentiality concerns.
Chan noted that some people are also unable to be immunized due to medical reasons, leaving them susceptible to the virus.
“I think this always highlights why it’s important for communities to have the highest vaccination rate possible, because there are those in our communities who may not be able to get the vaccine, or they may be too young to get the vaccine,” Chan said.
Chan said the state is working to identify how the child contracted the virus, and is completing a contact investigation to reach out to those who may have been exposed in the locations the child visited.
In an email Sunday afternoon, Cheshire Medical Center said patients wanting to check on their immunization status, or who have other questions about the disease, can call and leave a message at 354-6705. People are asked to leave their name, date of birth, phone number, reason for calling and information about when is best to reach them.
Measles was declared eradicated in the U.S., but low vaccination rates in some communities has led to a resurgence, the release says. So far this year, 839 cases have been reported in 23 states, according to the New Hampshire agency.
According to Chan, the most recent reported case in New Hampshire was in late February. In that case, the person diagnosed with measles had traveled from the Boston area to southern New Hampshire on a bus, he said. Chan stressed that the Granite State typically has high vaccination rates and is not experiencing a measles outbreak.
Anyone with questions or concerns can call the public health services department’s phone line from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week, at 271-9461.
This story has been changed to remove incorrect information about the child's vaccination status.