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TUPELO • The Mississippi State Department of Health is warning the public about potential exposure to measles at two Hattiesburg restaurants.

On Friday, State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said the department had identified two public fast food restaurants where a visitor who was later diagnosed with measles went during the period he was contagious. The traveler is no longer in Mississippi. So far there have been no cases of measles reported in the state.

People may have been exposed to measles if they were at:

  • Subway inside Circle K on U.S. Highway 11 between 2 and 4 p.m. April 9.
  • Raising Cane’s on Hardy Street between 10 and 11 p.m. on April 10.

Measles is a highly contagious virus spread through the air, said State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs. The incubation period can run from 7 to 21 days. People can spread the disease about four days before they develop the hallmark rash.

“If you develop symptoms like fever, rash or cough, you should call your physician or emergency department,” Dobbs said. “It’s very contagious; we don’t want (people with suspected measles infection) sitting in waiting rooms.”

Health care providers are able to take precautions to isolate anyone with a suspected case so they can receive care, Dobbs said.

The best protection from measles is receiving two doses of the MMR vaccine, which has been required for school and daycare attendance for years.

“It’s important to make sure you are up to date with your vaccinations,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.

People born before 1957 were exposed to the virus in childhood and do not need immunizations. Adults born after 1957 who aren’t sure if they received both doses of the vaccine should consult their physician.

Measles vaccination has long been encouraged for international travelers because measles is much more common in other parks of the world. Through April 11, the Centers for Disease Control has identified 555 cases of measles in 17 states, the second greatest total since measles was eliminated in the United States in 2000.

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