Measle outbreak in North Carolina

Free vaccines at health department
Apr. 21, 2013 @ 07:12 AM

There is an outbreak of measles, public health officials from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Friday local health departments are asked to investigate and control an outbreak of measles.

Eight cases have been confirmed in North Carolina; seven in Stokes County and one in Orange County. 

There are known exposures in many other counties including several in western North Carolina. Local public health departments in these counties are contacting those who might have been exposed to these cases and providing vaccine to limit the spread of infection.

There are no known cases in Rutherford County, said Helen White, Nursing Director for the Rutherford-Polk-McDowell health district.

However, she suggests anyone who is not up-do-date on the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, the immunization is offered free at the health departments.

According to the state public health department, measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people

close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. The virus can live on infected surfaces for up to two hours. Measles 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.

Recommendations to the public:

• 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. Anyone interested in getting vaccinated should contact their health care provider or their local health department.

• The early symptoms of measles can be similar to those of many other infections, it is recommended 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 to the disease.

•Call the Rutherford County Health Dept. at 287-6100 for information or to schedule an immunization. The health department is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday