AUGUSTA – A Canadian tourist who visited Old Orchard Beach last weekend has been diagnosed with measles and may have left the virus behind.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is warning of the potential for measles exposure in Southern Maine after being contacted by the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services on Thursday. Quebec has experienced an increase in measles cases and a Quebec resident who became ill this week had visited the Old Orchard Beach and Saco areas from Friday through Monday, when the virus would likely have been contagious.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Symptoms usually begin one to two weeks after exposure and include high fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and a rash. An individual infected with measles can transmit the virus to others – if they are not immune – from four days before their symptoms start until four days after the rash resolves. The virus is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing.

“If you or your children are at risk for measles and become ill with the symptoms of this disease, you should tell your health care provider so that precautions can be taken to avoid exposing anyone else,” said Dr. Stephen Sears, State Epidemiologist. “If you or your family members are not up to date with vaccine or you have questions about whether you are immune, you should contact your healthcare provider.”

Most people in the United States and in Maine have been vaccinated and are immune to measles.Those at risk for the disease include infants less than age 1 and persons born after 1957 who have not received two doses of MMR vaccine.

Health care providers who treat patients with suspected cases of measles are advised to call the Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821 for consultation and to arrange testing.

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