Measles patient likely got virus from overseas travel

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – There’s new information about the Baystate Medical Center patient who had the measles. The person was a faculty member at Smith College in Northampton.

Northampton Pubic Health Director Merridith O’Leary told 22News the Smith College professor likely contracted the measles on an oversees visit to Patagonia, a region at the Southern end of South America shared by Chile and Argentina.

Dewey and Hatfield Halls are the two academic buildings where Smith College says people may have been exposed to the potentially deadly virus. It’s recommended that anyone in these buildings on March 31st, check their immunization records.

Sunny Lawrence is a Smith College student who was inside one of those buildings that day. “I had been in that building on that day so I was a little worried, but I have been vaccinated and I haven’t had any symptoms, so I’m less worried now.”

Even if you’ve been vaccinated, or were born before 1957, health experts recommend you get a booster shot before doing any oversees travel.

The Department of Public Health keeps track of recent vaccination records online, but Northampton Public Health Director Merridith O’Leary told 22News, “For people of my generation prior to, you don’t have record unless you’ve kept them. Or you can trace back your physicians and get them.”

A blood test can also determine if you’ve been immunized.

“A lot of these disease that people have thought were eradicated are coming back because a lot of people aren’t getting vaccinated,” said Smith College student Isabella Levy.

Smith College student Isabella Galldone told 22News, “Being through the whole swine flu scare when I was in high school. People got it. I actually had it. When these kinds of public health things come up, it’s important not to panic.”

The Northampton Health Department says they’re working with Smith College to identify and contact people who may have been exposed.

They said they’d consider holding a measles vaccine clinic for measles based on the availability of that vaccine, and only if there is a local outbreak.

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