Multiple cases of measles have been confirmed in Framingham. Credit: Getty Images
An outbreak of measles in the MetroWest area has residents on high alert.
A Trader Joe's supermarket in Framingham has been declared the location where many were exposed, and doctors have estimated that hundreds of shoppers may have come in contact with the disease. Two cases have already been confirmed.
A statement was placed at the Framingham Trader Joe's, alerting all customers of the possible outbreak.
"This is to inform you that a confirmed case of measles was in this building while infectious on February 15 and 16, 2014," the statement reads. "The Framingham Board of Health is working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to notify those who are at risk."
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health describes measles as an acute disease characterized by fever, cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis, red rashes and mouth lesions. A very contagious disease that usually lasts a week or two, it can cause serious problems like ear infections, pneumonia and swelling of the brain in some people, especially pregnant women, infants and those with weakened immune systems. Adults are also at increased risk for severe disease and may need to be hospitalized due to complications, according to the health department.
The Boston Public Health Commission said it is "absolutely possible" for people to contract measles if they haven’t been vaccinated.
"Measles is actually one of the most contagious diseases that we track," said BPHC Spokesman Nick Martin.
According to information provided by the state Department of Public Health, the vaccination status of the two cases is unknown.
"The Framingham incident really underscores the importance of timely vaccinations, not only for children but for adolescents and adults too," said Martin.
"Measles and other infectious diseases, such as rubella, still exist, but they’re preventable illnesses if you get vaccinated."
Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed should immediately contact their physician or the Framingham Board of Health.