The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that it is investigating a confirmed case of measles in Rio Arriba County. The 1-year-old child had not yet been immunized against the disease. This is the first confirmed measles case in New Mexico since February 2012.

Measles rash Image/CDC
Measles rash

People who may have been exposed to measles and develop an illness should call their medical provider first to make arrangements to be seen without exposing other patients to the virus. Signs and symptoms of measles include an illness with fever, cough, runny nose, or pink eye and the development of a rash.

“We are working with the hospital that treated the child and the patient’s family to identify people who may have been exposed so we can prevent more cases of the disease,”said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH “This case should serve as a reminder to all of us to keep our immunizations up to date. Immunizations are the best tool we have to protect people from serious and potentially life threatening diseases.”

Measles is highly contagious and is easily transmitted person-to-person via droplets or through the air. Early symptoms of measles include: red eyes, fever, runny nose and cough. Within a few days following the cough and runny nose, a rash will begin on the face and spread down the body. Measles is diagnosed by a combination of symptoms and laboratory testing.

Adults needing measles vaccine can contact their medical provider or local pharmacy. Children who have no insurance coverage can get the vaccine at their local public health office.