NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WDEF) – The measles comeback in the U.S. has now arrived in East Tennessee.
The state Department of Health is investigating a case in our region after a confirmed positive test.
They will not pinpoint the location any further than East Tennessee.
Health officials say all Tennesseans now should be aware of the symptoms of measles.
— runny nose
— body aches
— watery eyes
— white spots in the mouth.
— red, spotty rash beginning on face and spreading over the body
Almost a third of measles patients will get ear infections, diarrhea or pneumonia.
Measles can be fatal in about one out of every 1,000 cases.
“Our efforts are focused on preventing the spread of illness to others,” said TDH State Epidemiologist Tim Jones, MD.
“This appearance of measles is a reminder about the importance of vaccines and how they can particularly protect our most vulnerable, including infants and those with compromised immune systems.”
The measles virus is highly contagious.
You can get it from the air or on surfaces for up to 2 hours after exposure.
And the difficult part is that measles sufferers will be contagious up to five days BEFORE the rash appears.
“Most people in Tennessee are vaccinated against measles and that’s important, but infants and those with weakened immune systems are still at high risk for infection,” said TDH Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP.
Of course, the current outbreak is often blamed on parents who think the vaccine is dangerous for their kids.
“The measles-mumps-rubella or MMR vaccine is safe and widely available. Call your health care provider to check your immunization status and schedule your vaccine if you haven’t had one.”
And one last important news.
If you or a loved one needs to be checked out to see if you have measles, BE SURE TO CALL AHEAD. They don’t want measles-exposed patients to infect more people at health facilities.
Tennessee has set up a measles hotline number: 865-549-5343; calls to the hotline will be answered from 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Central time/8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Eastern time daily until further notice.
Tennessee has had only 15 cases of measles in the last decade due to relatively high vaccination rates. All children should have their first measles vaccinations at age 12-15 months, followed by a second dose at four to six years of age. Teens and adults should check with their doctors to make sure they are protected against measles. Talk with your health care provider about vaccination before leaving for international trips.
For more information about measles, visit www.cdc.gov/features/measles/index.html.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.