MANCHESTER — State health officials say vaccinations remain the best defense against measles, especially for anyone with plans to travel internationally.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that the number of U.S. cases confirmed in 2014 has already surpassed the total for 2013. New Hampshire was not among the 18 states to report cases to the CDC, which reported the total at 288 and growing as of May 23.
Elizabeth Talbot, deputy state epidemiologist for the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, said many of the cases were in people who were exposed while traveling overseas. Although rare in the United States, measles is highly contagious and potentially serious.
“The majority of the people who got measles were unvaccinated, so clearly we have a mechanism for preventing this disease,” Talbot said.
Talbot advised anyone with future travel plans, especially to the tropics, to make sure their vaccinations are up to date. She said that anyone showing symptoms of measles or an unknown illness should seek medical attention. A positive diagnosis could reduce potential exposure to others, she said.
The CDC health alert listed Connecticut and Massachusetts among the states with confirmed measles cases, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate a higher risk for New Hampshire residents.
Tim Soucy, public health director for Manchester, said measles is among diseases serious enough to require confirmed cases to be reported to the state health department.
“I think we’re just monitoring it right now,” Soucy said Monday. “When the CDC issues a health alert, the State of New Hampshire has its own health alert network, so that information will get disseminated statewide to the local health departments, physicians’ offices, hospitals so that everyone is on the same page.”