Possible measles case reported in Illinois

Health Officials in Winnebago County, Illinois, are investigating reports that a four-year-old child has been infected with the measles.

The Winnebago County Health Department said that if tests confirm the infection it would be the county's first case of the illness since 1994, according to BeloitDaily.com.

The child in question began developing a rash near the ears at the end of June and also displayed symptoms including conjunctivitis, fever and Koplik spots.

In response, the health department is urging local healthcare professionals to remain aware of potential new cases and report any new cases immediately, BeloitDaily.com reports.

Measles is a once-common respiratory illness that is considered highly contagious. It is transported through the air by respiratory droplets primarily from coughs and sneezes. Approximately two weeks after exposure, the infected usually develop a rash that begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. Other symptoms include a runny nose, red or sensitive eyes and a cough.

Childhood vaccination programs have helped make the measles rare in the United States, but in recent years the number of cases seen nationwide has increased. In the first 19 weeks of 2011, there were 118 cases reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 105 were in unvaccinated patients.