The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) announced the first confirmed measles case in the state this year.

Current reports suggest that a European tourist may be responsible for the measles outbreak in the eastern part of the state. Officials warned that a European visitor, who traveled from May 1 to 8 in the Greater Boston area, was contagious.

During the tour, the European traveler rode buses and subways as well as visited several restaurants and shops in Wrentham, Rockport Village, Boston and Cambridge.

The early signs of measles infection can happen between 10 days to two weeks following the exposure. Symptoms include a runny nose, red eyes, cough, cold with fever and a skin rash that develops between two to four days following the initial symptoms.

The skin rash often starts on the head and spreads downward to the rest of the body.

The MDPH advised individuals who may have become exposed to the virus to call their health care company straightaway, especially those who developed the initial symptoms.

"Fortunately, in Massachusetts we have very high rates of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination, especially among school-age youth," said MDPH Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel.

Officials advised people to call ahead so they can come in for an evaluation without risking exposure to others.

If you suspect that you may have been exposed to the virus, Bharel suggested being on alert for 21 days following the alleged exposure.

Watch out for any manifestation of initial symptoms, especially respiratory illnesses that are accompanied with fever and followed by a rash.

The health department advised calling the BPHC at 617-534-5611 for Boston residents or those who attend school or work in the city who might have been exposed to the virus.

For those living outside of Boston, people are advised to call their local health agency or the MDPH at 617-983-6800.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a sick individual can infect as many as nine out of 10 unprotected persons surrounding him or her. In some cases, a child can contract the virus in a room visited by an infected individual up to 2 hours prior.

Photo: Ivan Mlinaric | Flickr

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