A middle-aged Finnish man was diagnosed with measles on Friday, 22 November at Hyvinkää Hospital (60 kilometers north of Helsinki). And the Finnish health authorities now fear that dozens of people who visited the accident and emergency unit that day may have been exposed to the virus.
According to a release by the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district (HUS), the patient diagnosed with measles had traveled abroad before his illness, and his vaccination history against the virus is unclear. The patient is currently in quarantine (air isolation), but people who were in the hospital at the same time as him could have contracted the disease.
HUS explained that measles is "an exceptionally contagious disease". It does not require any personal contact to be transmitted, since it spreads through the air in the room. It may be enough to stay in the same room with an infected person to be infected. Still, HUS said that in this case the risk of infection is very low.
Authorities have urged those people who visited the hospital's emergency centre on Friday morning and afternoon to check if their own vaccination history is in up to date. Exposed patients and staff were examined over the weekend.
The primary symptoms of measles include high fever, eye inflammation and breathing difficulties. The rash begins after 3-5 days and lasts more than a week. Normally, the patient can transmit the disease 4 days before and 4 days after the onset of the rash. The disease is more severe in adulthood.
Last week, another case of measles was confirmed at the Kanta-Häme hospital, in South central Finland.