HAMILTON COUNTY, Tennessee(WDEF) - According to State Health officials, one of the five reported cases of measles involved an infected person who was traveling through Hamilton County last Wednesday.
State health officials say the other four cases were reported in Madison, Gibson, Hardeman and Shelby Counties.
According to the Tennessee Dept. of Health, the cases started with one traveler who was exposed to the illness in another country. The other four cases are individuals who were known to have been in close contact with the first the traveler. TDH is now investigating close contacts of the five people in Tennessee known to have the illness.
The State Health Department said this is the first time measles has been reported in Tennessee in three years.
The disease has been considered eliminated in the United States since 2000 other than occasional outbreaks due to people traveling overseas, and then spreading it among those who aren't vaccinated.
The measles virus is highly contagious and can stay airborne or live on surfaces for up to two hours. Recently infected people may not have any symptoms of illness, but can transmit the virus for about five days before the typical rash appears. Symptoms of measles usually appear within one to two weeks after exposure and may include a blotchy rash, runny nose, fever, aches, watery eyes and white spots in the mouth. Nearly one in three patients will develop ear infections, diarrhea or pneumonia.
For some, measles can be deadly; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates measles caused 164,000 deaths worldwide as recently as 2008. Safe and effective vaccinations are readily available across Tennessee to prevent measles. All members of the public of any age considering international travel, including the parents of infants and toddlers, should consult their health care provider about their risk of measles and evaluate their need for the MMR vaccine.
16 other states are also experiencing a multiple number of Measles cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of last Friday, there has been a total of 187 cases of Measles in 17 states including Tennessee.
A majority of the cases involve people who are not vaccinated.