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Measles confirmed in state: Officials work to prevent outbreak in N.H.

Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The rash associated with a case of childhood measles is shown here. New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services officials confirm there is now at least one case of measles in the state, as a child in the Keene area has been identified.

NASHUA – A New Hampshire child is afflicted with measles, a disease caused by a virus that is passed from person-to-person through the air when someone with the infection sneezes, coughs, or talks.

More than two months after New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services officials issued a warning about a passenger infected with measles visiting Manchester, the department’s Division of Public Health Services confirmed that a child in the Keene area is suffering from the disease.

“Measles is a very contagious disease that can be spread through the air, but the vaccine for measles is very safe and effective,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said.

“Vaccination within 72 hours of exposure can help prevent disease, but people may still benefit from vaccination even after this time period. For those who are not able to receive the vaccine due to medical reasons, there are other available treatments that can help prevent disease,” Chan added.

Chan said the contagious child was believed to have recently been in these locations in the Keene area:

• The nursery and coffee hour at the United Church of Christ at 23 Central Square on Sunday;

• The infant/toddler room at the Keene Montessori School on 125 Railroad St. on Thursday; and

• The Walk-in Clinic at Cheshire Medical Center at 149 Emerald St. on Thursday.

“Anybody that believes they may have been exposed at one of the listed locations and is not vaccinated or immune should call the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services,” Chan said.

A public inquiry phone line is available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. by calling 603-271-9461, or toll-free for state residents at 1-800-852-3345, ext. 9461. Anyone who was potentially exposed and is not immune may need immediate vaccination to help prevent development of measles.

The measles virus can remain infectious in the air for up to two hours after an infected person leaves the area. It is very easy for individuals who have not received the measles vaccine to contract it from someone else. The incubation period for measles from the time of exposure is seven to 21 days.

Symptoms of measles infection usually begin with high fever, cough, runny nose, and conjunctivitis several days prior to developing a body rash.