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Maine Confirms First Measles Case In 20 Years

| by Selena Darlim

The Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory has confirmed the state's first case of measles since 1997. The case is believed to be travel-related. The Maine Center for Disease Control is now working with local health care professionals to identify others who may have been exposed to the virus.

State epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett told Bangor Daily News that an individual from Franklin County had contracted measles while overseas. She did not specify the individual's age or sex, or whether the person had been vaccinated with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

The CDC says the MMR vaccine is 97 percent effective at preventing measles. A recent study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that Maine had the highest combined average rate for child vaccinations in the U.S, with 96 percent of Maine children having received the MMR vaccine compared to the national average of 91.6 percent.

Those who have not been vaccinated with MMR stand a 90 percent chance of contracting the disease if exposed, according to the CDC.  

Symptoms of measles include coughing, fever, runny nose and red eyes. While many people will recover from the disease, it can progress and lead to pneumonia, encephalitis or death.

Bangor Daily News released the Maine CDC's list of potential places, dates and times where people may have been exposed to the disease:

  • Narrow Gauge Cinema, Farmington, Maine, 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 15
  • Grantlee’s Tavern and Grill, Farmington, Maine, 7 to 11 p.m. Thursday, June 15
  • Farmington Farmers Market, Farmington, Maine, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 17
  • The Kingfield Woodsman, Kingfield, Maine, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, June 18
  • Restaurant la Chocolaterie, Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 18
  • Franklin Memorial Hospital Emergency Department, 8 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday, June 18
  • Franklin Memorial Hospital Laboratory, noon to 2:30 p.m., Monday, June 19

Although the Maine case may have originated abroad, a separate measles outbreak originating in the U.S. was highlighted on June 24 by comedian John Oliver in a segment on his HBO show "Last Week Tonight".

Oliver spoke about the recent outbreak in Somali community in Minnesota, which he attributed to the community's low vaccination rate of 42 percent.

According to Doug Shultz from the Minnesota Department of Health, Somali-Minnesotans have accounted for 65 of the state's 78 cases in 2017. Oliver stated that there were only 70 measles cases in the entire U.S. in 2016.

There have been approximately 100 cases of measles nationwide in 2017, The Huffington Post reports.  The federal CDC says the patients were unvaccinated in most cases.

WCCO reported that the Department of Health will declare the Minnesota measles outbreak over if no new cases emerge by July 29. As of June 28, no other cases have been reported in either Minnesota or Maine.

Should children receive MMR vaccine?
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