The Tennessee Department of Health has reported five confirmed measles cases as of May. 1.
Health officials say while this outbreak investigation is currently centered in East Tennessee, all Tennesseans should be aware of measles and its symptoms. Measles symptoms may include fever, runny nose, body aches, watery eyes and white spots in the mouth. Several days after these symptoms start, a red, spotty rash typically begins on the face and spreads over the body. Symptoms may develop any time in the 21 days following exposure to the illness. Nearly one in three measles patients will develop ear infections, diarrhea or pneumonia. Measles can be fatal in approximately one to two out of every 1,000 cases.
All Tennesseans are urged to ensure they are up-to date on MMR vaccine, which is extremely effective in preventing infection. The measles virus is highly contagious and can stay airborne or live on surfaces for up to two hours. People recently infected with measles may not have any symptoms of illness, but can transmit the virus for about five days before the typical measles rash appears.
Anyone who believes they or a loved one has measles symptoms should stay home and contact a health care provider to make arrangements to visit a health care facility before going to a health care center to prevent further exposure of others to the illness.
From January 1 to April 26, 2019, 704 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 22 states. This is an increase of 78 cases from the previous week. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
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