RALEIGH — State health officials say they are investigating an outbreak of measles in Orange and Stokes counties.
So far, seven cases of the highly contagious disease have been confirmed, and local health departments are contacting other people who might have been exposed to the measles virus and providing them with a vaccine.
Orange health officials say there has been one confirmed case in the county, in a child who attends a private school. The school and potential contacts have been notified and steps have been taken to prevent further spread of the virus, they said.
Measles is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing or 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, followed by a rash that appears on the head and spreads over the entire body.
Measles can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children.
The disease can be prevented by the combination MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine that is routinely given to children as infants.
“Measles is very uncommon in North Carolina, so many people aren’t aware of the symptoms,” said Dr. Laura Gerald, the 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.”
For more information about measles, go to http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/rubeola.html