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September 09. 2013 9:25PM

UPDATED: Salem company Enterasys Networks linked to measles outbreak

Salem-based high-tech company Enterasys Networks was identified Monday as the large southern New Hampshire employer whose workers were exposed to measles last month.
 
A state health official said he released the name of the company after Enterasys officials did not object.
 
The company said Monday that it followed the precautions recommended by state health officials once the potential for a measles infection became known.
 
Employees were asked to get measles shots or provide evidence of prior immunization, said Tammy Baker, vice president for Worldwide Human Resources. “Employees who were not able to provide the information prior to each work day during the incubation period were permitted to work from home,” Baker said.
 
The company knows of no worker who has come down with measles because of the exposure, she said.
 
Last week, state officials said the potential existed for an outbreak of measles at the company, which they would not identify.
 
Measles is almost an afterthought in the United States, thanks to programs that have most children vaccinated against the disease. But it can result in serious complications, including pneumonia, meningitis, even death, in those who lack immunity to the disease.
 
Last week, health officials said the employer was visited by a measles carrier who lives out of state. Baker said the potential exposure required some additional attention from Enterasys employees, but did not affect productivity or disrupt business operations.
 
On Monday, New Hampshire Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero said the incubation period is over for Enterasys and no one developed the symptoms. He said the initial patient has recovered from the disease.
 
Last week, the New Hampshire Union Leader filed a Right to Know request seeking the name of the company. Montero said the Right to Know request is still pending with his agency’s lawyers.
 
Montero said his agency identifies businesses involved in a public health matter when there is a high risk for exposure to the public. For example, over the summer he identified a restaurant because there was no way to track down all the customers, who could have been exposed to Hepatitis A.
 
Montero said identification of Enterasys was not necessary because investigators identified and located everyone exposed to the measles carrier.
 
Montero said public health officials have to weigh public disclosure against unnecessary stress or panic.
 
“We don’t want to give the impression of Chicken Little — the sky is falling,” he said. “We release names of businesses when there is a particular public health reason — a risk to the public.”
 
Enterasys is an outgrowth of Cabletron Systems, the company formed in the 1980s by Craig Benson, who eventually became a New Hampshire governor.
 
On its website, the company bills itself as “a premier global provider of wired and wireless network infrastructure and security solutions.”
 
Its United States office is based at 9 Northeastern Blvd. in Salem, and it has other locations in Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
 
mhayward@unionleader.com


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