Measles Patient Discharged; Potentially Exposed Are Sought

Baystate Medical Center in Springfield has discharged a patient who was diagnosed with measles over the weekend and is no longer considered contagious. But the hospital continues to reach out to some 300 people who could have been exposed.

Measles is a highly contagious, airborne disease. So Baystate epidemiologist Sarah Haessler says the hospital has tried to reach anyone who may have breathed the same air as the patient –  as required by the Department of Public Health.

“They cast a very wide net about who could have possibly shared that space, so in the emergency department it’s any patient or visitor or healthcare worker that were in that same airspace with the patient,” Haessler says. “They encouraged us, and we did, to err on the side of caution.”

Haessler says anyone who was not vaccinated against measles is offered an immediate vaccine, since it’s effective even after exposure — or a blood product that carries measles anti-bodies. Haessler says the hospital has also alerted primary care practices in Northampton, where the patient spent time while still contagious. Haessler says this was the first measles case in Western Massachusetts in decades.  Public health officials say they are worried about potential outbreaks, since rates of vaccine refusal are rising.