Measles case in Boston has health officials concerned

BOSTON Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:17pm EST

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BOSTON (Reuters) - Health officials in Boston were working to contain the potential spread of one confirmed case of measles after two new suspected cases were reported on Thursday, authorities said.

There is concern that more cases will emerge because people with measles are contagious four days before and four days after the disease's telltale rash appears, said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the infectious disease bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission.

Last Friday, the city health department confirmed a case of measles in a young woman who most likely acquired the airborne and very contagious disease overseas,

Measles, a disease caused by a virus, looks and feels like a cold initially but later a rash develops on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

The woman is employed at the French consulate in Boston, where employees had to provide proof of vaccination in order to return to work and those without proof were ordered quarantined at home, said consulate spokesperson Nathalie Bastin.

Health officials vaccinated about 80 people on Wednesday in the office building where the consulate is located and have urged the roughly 1,500 employees in the building to check their immunization records.

The officials are gathering information on the new suspected cases and notifying people who may have had contact with the confirmed case, Barry said.

Barry said it is rare to see measles cases in Boston where a large percentage of the work force is employed at health care facilities and there is a concentration of colleges and universities that require immunization.

In the United States, vaccination is require for all school children.

In 2006, Boston experienced a large outbreak of measles in the John Hancock Tower, an office building in the Back Bay neighborhood.

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