ORONO, Maine — University of Maine officials are advising that students and staff to be on lookout for measles symptom — and get immunized against it, if warranted — after receiving word from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention that a recent out-of-state visitor to the campus has a confirmed case of the highly contagious respiratory disease.
UMaine officials received notification of the measles exposure about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday and immediately issued an alert, campus spokeswoman Margaret Nagle said early Wednesday evening.
The notice says that the visitor, whose name, age and hometown were not released, had been at several buildings on the Orono campus on April 18 but did not specify which ones.
“The person became ill the day after the campus visit and is considered to have been contagious while on campus,” the notice said.
Nagle said that no cases of the measles have been detected so far within the campus community.
Measles is a contagious rash illness caused by a virus that is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory secretions of infected persons, Maine CDC said, adding that the virus also can stay in the air for up to two hours after an infected person has left the room.
The disease is rare in Maine, according to the Maine CDC, which noted that there were no cases reported from 2002 through 2011, the most recent year for which statistics were available.
Symptoms include a cold-like illness, namely coughing, a runny nose, and red watery eyes, at first, followed by a red, blotchy rash that begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Symptoms usually start within 10 to 21 days after contact with an infected person, state disease control and prevention officials said.
Measles can diagnosed through nose and throat swabs, urine samples or blood tests and typically is treated with antibiotics, anti inflammatory medication or both, according to a Maine CDC fact sheet.
Measles can be prevented by a vaccine. The vaccine is normally given to young children but adolescents and adults who are not immune also should be vaccinated, Maine CDC said.
Because it is impossible to determine specific people who had contact with this individual, the Maine CDC offered the following recommendations:
— Those who were born in the U.S. in or after 1957 and do not have documentation of having had two doses of MMR or measles-containing vaccine or serologic evidence of immunity through a blood test should call their healthcare providers to receive a dose of vaccine as soon as possible.
— Those born outside the U.S. — regardless of year of birth — and do not have documentation of having had two doses of MMR or measles-containing vaccine or serologic evidence of immunity also should make arrangements to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
— The CDC noted that those born in the U.S. before 1957 are very likely immune to the measle. Despite that, they should consider being vaccinated to increase the likelihood of protection against the disease.
— Anyone who was on campus on April 16 should watch for symptoms of infection through May 8.
Anyone who experiences symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and state that they have received the CDC notice and make arrangements with their provider in advance to avoid exposing others in the waiting room. Furthermore, children and
Children and adults with symptoms should stay away from childcare, school or work until the fourth day of the rash, although those who have not been immunized may have to stay home until the potential for contamination is over, the Maine CDC said.
For more information, call Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821 or visit maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/vaccine/measles.shtml.