Measles Scare in Boston and in Santa Fe

Reports of three people, some residing in Boston and the other in Santa Fe, contacting measles are stark reminders of how contagious the infectious disease is and how important it is to stay up-to-date with vaccinations. For the sake not only of one’s own help and for public health, it’s especially important to make sure one has all the necessary vaccines prior to international travel: The 27-year old Santa Fe women was not immunized and had traveled back from London via three different US airports.

Says USA Today about the Sante Fe woman:

Public health officials are warning travelers and workers present at four U.S. airports on two recent days that they may have been exposed to measles from a traveler arriving from London.

Authorities said Saturday that a New Mexico woman later confirmed to have measles arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport late in the afternoon of Feb. 20. Two days later, the measles-infected traveler departed from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport near Baltimore on an evening flight to Denver, Colo., and then on to Albuquerque, N.M.

The traveler became sick and was subsequently diagnosed with measles in New Mexico, said Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He said Saturday night that authorities in those states are trying to notify travelers who sat close to the infected passenger on the flights.

ERV, a graduate student studying the molecular and biochemical evolution of HIV who writes on Science Blogs, puzzles over how a 27-year-old could not have easily gotten vaccinated. Measles, as ERV points out, is now endemic in London: It’s terrible that the Santa Fe resident is ill, but the fact is that, by not taking health precautions, she has potentially and significantly endangered the health of many others at the airports she traveled through, on the planes she traveled on, and anywhere in the Sante Fe area she passed through prior to discovering that she has measles.

Three adults in Boston have also contracted measles, the February 25th Boston Globe reports. City officials are now suspecting that the ‘infectious ailment may be on the move beyond the Back Bay office building where a woman went to work while harboring the disease.’ The first person reported to have contracted measles is an employee of the French consulate, but neither of the two additional people who have been confirmed to have the disease worked in the Park Square building that she does. Says the Boston Globe

One of the women newly suspected of having the disease — she is in her 20s — lives in the same Boston building as the original case, said Dr. Anita Barry, top disease investigator at the Boston Public Health Commission. “They would have been directly sharing air space,’’ said Barry, who declined to specify whether the women were roommates.

The second suspected case reported to health authorities yesterday involves a 36-year-old woman who frequented the bustling restaurants in the Park Square entertainment district. The French consulate employee was a regular in those establishments, too, Barry said.

Neither of the women with possible cases of measles has needed to stay in a hospital, Barry said. Laboratory tests will be conducted to confirm whether they have the disease, which is heralded by a fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and, a few days after those original symptoms, a rash.

Writing in the Pediatrics blog at, Vincent Ianelli, M.D., cites the case of an infant from Clark County, Washington, who had contracted measles during a recent visit to India where there are about 40,000 cases of measles a year. The infant’s parents took their sick child to the pediatrician’s office and toa nearby hospital for tests: Any children and parents in those locations have now been exposed to measles as a result, though no additional cases have yet been confirm. 

Dr. Ianelli underscores how these cases are simple evidence about the sorts of precautions people must take when they travel internationally:

While many vaccine-preventable infections are well controlled or have been eliminated in the United States, most are still a big problem around the world. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, ‘In 2008, there were 164,000 measles deaths globally – nearly 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour. ‘ And measles remains one of the leading causes of death in children.

While measles cases in the U.S. have been reduced to fewer than 150 annually since 1997 due to immunizatons, the diesase is still common worldwide, with an estimated 10 million cases and 164,000 deaths globally each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionl this is why the CDC recommends that U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad remain up to date on immunizations. A 2008 CDC report noted that the risk for measles transmission by air travel in the United States “is considered low because of high U.S. population immunity,’ but the case of the Santa Fe resident suggests that that ‘high population immunity’ may not be as strong as it has been.

Due to fears of some link between vaccines and autism, more than a few parents have chosen not to vaccinate their children, or to ‘spread out’ vaccinations. But a lower vaccination rate means lowered ‘herd immunity‘ in a population—when a significant proportion of a population has been vaccinated against a disease, those who not been vaccinated (such as infants or, in the case above, the Santa Fe resident) have a measure of protection.

So if you’ve international travel plans in the near future (Spring Break is just around the corner for many college students), please make sure you or your child are up-to-date with your vaccinations. It can make all the difference in the health of the world.

More Care2 Coverage

Autism and Vaccines: Why This Topic Won’t Go Away

Verdict Is In On MMR Safety

Photo by joeflintham.


William C
William C1 months ago

Thanks for caring.

W. C
W. C1 months ago

Thank you for the information.

Harriet S.
Harriet S6 years ago

First let me say I concur with the lot of you on SCARE Tactics! I never got vaccines and neither did my kids they all had MEASLES, regular and GERMAN. Oh by way you can get German measles many many times in your life and vaccine only lasts a year! Is this a new strain of measles or the old one? And is this German or regular that is going around? What about the Meningitis that is going around it kills too! And it is here in USA in Day Cares yep in my grandsons Houston TX. As for the vaccines they are dangerous and I support every parent that chooses not to vaccinate, Good for You! Mumps are much more dangerous to adults especially males if they haven't had them than measles. So stop fretting. Just be ready for it if it comes into your family.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman6 years ago

thanx for the article

Bryon S.
Bryon S6 years ago

I'm rather surprised and offended by this article. I personally think vaccinations are a scam for big pharma to make tons of money. Studies of their effectiveness are flimsy. Vaccinations for epidemics are always introduced just as the disease starts to die off...and then the vaccines are given credit for the lower incidence of the disease. Besides that vaccines can and do make people sick. Even though they inject you with a dead virus your body does not recognize that it is dead and reacts to it. I'm really upset at Care2 that they would post this ridiculous article. Get rid of this writer...she is not helping anyone.

Sarah Zemke
Sarah Z6 years ago

Thank you

Helena Plum Bowyer
Helena B6 years ago

To have concern about vaccines is not being backward or putting your head in the sand. I'm a biologist and have a thorough understanding of immunity.
1. Most vaccines are injected. However most infections are oral or through broken skin. This is where your body 1st recognises and fights infection. There are doubts over whether your body recognises the threat fully when it is injected.
2. Vaccines do not convey 100% immunity.
3. The method of production uses animal parts, ususally primates. Please watch this link: as the developer thinks a cancer virus inadvertantly ended up in Polio vaccine in the 60's giving rise to a particualar cancer.
4. Squalene is used in some vaccines as an adjuvent, ie; make your body react to the vaccine stronger. Unfortuately your body uses squalene as a building block for cell walls, which your body now reacts to. Is there a link here between certain diseases and this effect? Many pharmacists have come out against this ingredient.
I could go on. I never started from a position of concern over vaccines . However the more I look into it the more I come concerned that the full story is not being told. Hell, they don't even record adverse events, even when you insist. HPV has made some girls really ill.
When you're a kid, these childhood diseases come spread out in the main. Sometimes you get them and never present sym

Kay L.
KayL NOFORWARDS6 years ago

Logic says that the more folks listen to fear-mongering about vaccinations and stop vaccinating their kids, the more likely old-time epidemics--like measles--are going to make a come-back.

Deborah H.
Deborah H6 years ago

Mary L and Deanne - 1st question: how many books have you read on vaccination? I've read 5 in addition to reading the ingredient labels on the website of vaccine manufacturers. I'm informed. 2nd question: When was your last booster shot or titer check of all the childhood diseases you could catch as an adult and pass on to a child that you walk past at the supermarket or church, etc.?

Over 40,000 people die in car crashes every year. Maybe everyone should stop driving. Sounds dangerous.

Susan L.
Susan L6 years ago

The flu kills millions every year! Measles is a minor disease, always has been and always will be. I had it, my kids got it, it's just not a "scare".

Care2 I wish you'd stop scare-mongering about measles and other such minor illnesses that are NORMAL to get, and better to have than the vaccines you are pushing!

Vaccines don't confer 100% immunity anyway. None of them do! And they're full of toxins and can seriously mess up a person's immune system, cause autism from the mercury in them, and cause paralysis and death.

In my day everyone got the measles. You stay home from school a few days, put up with the red dots on your skin, get over it and get on with life.

If a person is healthy they'll do just fine with the measles. And the flu. Although as noted before, the flu is far more deadly.