PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY
N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Investigating Measles Outbreak
RALEIGH – Public health officials from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services are working with local health departments to investigate an outbreak of measles. To date, seven cases have been identified in residents of Stokes and Orange Counties. Local public health departments are contacting other people who might have been exposed to these cases and providing vaccine to limit the spread of infection.
“Measles is very uncommon in North Carolina, so many people aren’t aware of the symptoms,” said Dr. Laura Gerald, State Health Director. “Measles spreads quickly, particularly in children and adults who aren’t vaccinated. We want to make the public aware of this outbreak so individuals can take steps to protect themselves and their families.”
Measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. It also can be transmitted through contact with secretions from the nose or mouth of an infected person. Initial symptoms may include fever, runny nose, watery red eyes and cough. 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. The disease poses serious risks for pregnant women, including miscarriage and premature birth.
Although the early symptoms of measles can be similar to those of many other infections, Dr. Gerald recommends that anyone with fever, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough, should stay at home and limit contact with others to avoid spreading illness. If you develop a rash or if your symptoms worsen, call your doctor or seek medical care. If you do seek medical care, call your doctor’s office or health care facility before you go so they can prepare for your visit and protect other patients from exposure.
Measles can be prevented by the combination MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. It is important for all individuals 12 months of age and older to be vaccinated.
“Vaccine is readily available,” said Dr. Gerald. “Anyone interested in getting vaccinated should contact their primary health care provider or their local health department.”
More information about measles is available at http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/rubeola.html