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Home Your Family Measles outbreak hits Georgia

Measles outbreak hits Georgia

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Measles has made its way to Georgia, with four confirmed cases in Cobb County. In 2019 alone, there have been 11 cases of measles. That is more cases than in the last 10 years combined.

The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed three additional cases of measles in Cobb County residents, and testing is underway on another possible case.

According to the health department, at least two of the individuals with measles are unvaccinated, and the vaccination history of the third is unclear.

These individuals may have exposed other people to measles between Oct. 30 and Nov. 13. The health department is notifying individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and may be at increased risk for developing measles.

Over the weekend, another case of measles was confirmed in Cobb County.

According to the Dept. of Public Health, it is highly likely these cases are all related, but the investigation into any linkage is ongoing.

“These additional cases of measles should be highly concerning for anyone who is not vaccinated with MMR. Measles is a serious disease, one which can lead to dangerous complications, even death,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H. “The MMR vaccine is safe and about 97% effective in preventing measles. Vaccination is strongly advised for individuals not only to protect themselves, but to protect vulnerable populations — such as infants who are too young to be vaccinated and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.”

Measles spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Droplets from the nose or mouth become airborne, or land on surfaces where they can live for two hours. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not vaccinated.

Measles starts with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children receive their first dose of MMR vaccine between 12 and 15 months of age and a second dose between 4 and 6 years old.

More than 95% of the people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to all three viruses. A second dose boosts immunity, typically enhancing protection to 98%.

Adults who are not sure about their measles immunity should speak to their health care provider. There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine if you may already be immune to measles, mumps or rubella.

People with symptoms of measles should contact their health care provider immediately. The health department urges people who suspect they have measles not to go to the doctor’s office, the hospital, or a public health clinic without first calling to let them know about the symptoms they are experiencing. 

Health care providers who suspect measles in a patient should notify the department of public health immediately.

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Thom Chandler
Thom Chandler is the editor of The Georgia Sun and has been writing, editing and managing websites and blogs since 1995. He is a lifelong Georgian and one of those increasingly rare Atlanta natives.