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Measles case in greater Boston, Brandeis has high vaccine compliance rate

A person was diagnosed with measles in the greater Boston area on Sunday, March 31, 2019 and, while infectious, traveled to several places—including locations in Waltham—where others may have been exposed, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).

Measles is spread more easily than almost any other disease, according to the Massachusetts website.

Vaccination is the best way to protect against measles, which was declared eliminated from the United States due to a highly effective vaccination program, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The measles vaccine is usually given in a MMR shot which protects against measles, mumps and rubella. The MMR vaccine—which the CDC suggests children first receive when they are between 2 and 15 months old and again around the time they enter kindergarten—is 93 percent effective with one dose and 97 percent effective with two doses.

People who are not immune and who visited any of the locations on the dates and times listed by the Massachusetts DPH may be at risk of developing measles and should contact their healthcare provider, according to the DPH. Symptoms develop between 10 to 14 days after exposure and may resemble a cold with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes.  A rash, usually on the head first, occurs two to four days after the initial symptoms develop, according to the DPH.

Exposures to the individual with measles may have occurred in Waltham at the Starbucks on Market Place Drive on Wednesday, March 27, between 8:40 and 10:45 a.m.; at the Staples at 800 Lexington St. between 8:50 and 11:10 a.m. on Thursday March 28; and at the Dunkin’ at the Wal-Lex Shopping Center at 876A Lexington St. between 9:10 and 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, March 28.

Exposure may also have occurred Tuesday, March 26 at KKatie’s Burger Bar in Plymouth, MA, on Thursday, March 28 at Whole Foods in Hyannis, MA, and on Thursday, March 28 at Target in Braintree, MA.

For a complete list of locations and times, visit the Massachusetts DPH website.

“Massachusetts regulates proof of immunity (through vaccine records or blood tests proving immunity) for all incoming students, including college students,” the administrative director of the Brandeis Health Center, Diana Denning, wrote to The Brandeis Hoot in an email. “Brandeis has a very high compliance rate.”

“College campuses are considered higher risk environments for infectious diseases as transmission is easier within dense living conditions. That is why we have the regulated requirements for proof of immunity before arrival to campus,” she said.

2019 has seen the second-greatest number of diagnosed cases of measles in the U.S. since the disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, according to data from the CDC. There were 387 individual cases confirmed between Jan 1. and March 28, 2019.

More cases of measles can occur in any given year because of an increase in the number of travelers who get measles while abroad and bring it back to the U.S. or because of measles spreading in pockets of unvaccinated people, according to the CDC.

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