Health officials urge vaccination after measles outbreak
Local health departments and the N.C. Department of Public Health are working together to investigate an outbreak of measles.
Eight cases, including three adults and five children, have been identified in Stokes and Orange Counties. Seven of the eight cases identified had not been previously vaccinated against the measles.
Measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. It can also be transmitted through contact with secretions from the nose or mouth of an infected person.
Symptoms of measles usually start about 10 days after exposure to the virus. The first symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and red watery eyes. After a few days, a rash appears on the head and spreads over the entire body. Measles can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children, and poses serious risks for pregnant women.
Measles is very uncommon in the United States and is prevented through vaccine. It remains a common disease in many parts of the world, including areas in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa and the Americas. Most of the measles cases that occur in the United States result from international travel by people who are typically not vaccinated against measles and get infected in other countries.
Measles can be prevented by the combination MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. It is important for all people 12 months of age and older to be vaccinated. These three vaccines are safe given together and are usually given in two separate doses to ensure effectiveness.
“Although measles is rare, it’s important for everyone to know the signs, symptoms, and how to prevent it. The best protection is vaccination. Check to make sure you and your children are up-to-date on the MMR. If not, call your doctor or the health department,” Barbara Ellis, public health director for the Rowan County Health Department, said in a news release.
For more information, contact the Rowan County Health Department at 704-216-8777. Also visit http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/rubeola.html