Maine sees its 1st measles case in four years

illustration of two measles virus particles depicted in reds and pinks against a black background
Maine recently reported a potential measles case in a child in the state. (Image credit: KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY via Getty Images)

A child in Maine who recently tested positive for measles may be the state's first case of the viral infection since 2019, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported Friday (May 5).

While the case still needs to be confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "out of an abundance of caution," Maine's public health agencies are assuming the child is infectious and working to identify and contact people who may have been exposed.

The CDC recommends that children receive their first dose of the MMR vaccine, which guards against measles, mumps and rubella, between 12 months and 15 months old. Children should get their second dose between 4 and 6 years old. Alternatively, the MMRV vaccine, which also guards against varicella (chickenpox), may be given following the same vaccination schedule.

Related: More than 70 children sickened in Ohio measles outbreak 

One dose of either vaccine is roughly 93% protective against measles, and two doses are 97% protective, meaning there's a small chance of infection even after two doses. However, vaccinated individuals tend to have much milder cases of the disease than unvaccinated people do.

The Maine child with a positive measles test had received one dose of a measles vaccine. (Neither the child's age nor any of their symptoms, if they had any, were noted in the DHHS statement.)

The Maine DHHS statement includes a list of locations that the measles-positive child recently visited and times they were at each place. "Anyone at these locations during these times should watch for symptoms for 21 days after their exposure," the statement reads. "If you have symptoms, call a health care provider for instructions before going to the office or hospital to help prevent further spread of infection."

Between Jan. 1 and April 28, 2023, a total of 10 measles cases were reported nationwide, the CDC reported.

Nicoletta Lanese
Channel Editor, Health

Nicoletta Lanese is the health channel editor at Live Science and was previously a news editor and staff writer at the site. She holds a graduate certificate in science communication from UC Santa Cruz and degrees in neuroscience and dance from the University of Florida. Her work has appeared in The Scientist, Science News, the Mercury News, Mongabay and Stanford Medicine Magazine, among other outlets. Based in NYC, she also remains heavily involved in dance and performs in local choreographers' work.