Indiana reports measles outbreak

Health officials were on alert Thursday after the confirmation of five measles cases in Noble County in the northeastern part of Indiana.

Dr. Gregory Larkin, the state health commissioner, said that his department had dispatched workers to seven neighboring counties in northern Indiana to identify any additional cases of the disease and to prevent its spread, Reuters reports.

The workers have been given additional doses of the measles vaccine. Those who have been exposed to an infected person may obtain the vaccine at no cost.

"With measles, even one case is considered an outbreak," Larkin said, according to Reuters.

Indiana is the latest state to report measles victims as the formerly rare disease returns. Utah, Vermont and New Jersey have confirmed measles cases since April.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that can be transmitted even if a person with measles isn't showing a rash. The disease can cause serious complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis and, in rare cases, brain damage or death.

Those who are unvaccinated may avoid contracting the disease if they receive the vaccine within 72 hours of the last exposure.

"I cannot stress enough that the best protection against measles is to get vaccinated," Larkin said, according to Reuters.

Measles typically begins with a fever, runny nose, cough and red eyes that appear seven to 10 days after exposure. The rash on the upper back and face starts two to four days later.

The virus is responsible for killing close to 200,000 people around the world each year.