New Mexico reports first measles case of 2012

The New Mexico Department of Health has reported the first state measles case since early 2011 in a nine-year-old girl who was not vaccinated against the infectious disease.

The department is working with the family of the northern New Mexico girl to identify who could have been exposed to the disease. The girl had contacts in both Taos and Rio Arriba counties, KRQE reports.

"This case should serve as a reminder to all of us to keep our immunizations up to date, especially when it comes to children," Catherine Torres, the state secretary of health, said, according to KRQE. "Immunizations are the best tool we have to protect people from serious and potentially life-threatening diseases."

New Mexico's last confirmed measles case was in February 2011.

The state's Vaccines for Children program allows all children in New Mexico to get vaccines for free.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that is transmitted from one person to another through the air or via droplets. Measles symptoms include cough, runny nose, fever, red eyes, and a rash that starts on the face and spreads down the body. Pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and infants under the age of one may require additional medications to protect them from the disease. People exposed to measles who develop an illness should call their medical provider ahead of time to prevent exposing other patients.