FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

North Carolina measles outbreak causes stir and investigation

A recent measles outbreak in Stokes and Orange counties in North Carolina has spurred an investigation by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread by coughing and sneezing. Initial symptoms could come in the forms of watery eyes, fever, running nose and a cough. Later on, a rash appears on the head and will spread over the entire body. Measles is serious because it can lead to pneumonia and other complications.

"Measles is very uncommon in North Carolina, so many people aren't aware of the symptoms," State Health Director Laura Gerald said. "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."

So far, seven cases of measles have been reported. The department of health is currently monitoring close cases of the confirmed measles cases to make sure the disease has not already spread to them.

Measles, while serious, can be prevented. Vaccinations can be given to anyone 12 months of age or older.

"Vaccine is readily available," Gerald said. "Anyone interested in getting vaccinated should contact their primary health care provider or their local health department."