MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) — The Shelby County Health Department in Tennessee has confirmed six people have the measles there as of Monday morning.
Last week, the health department notified the public of two confirmed measles cases belonging to a child and an adult. The two patients are not related.
Dr. Helen Morrow said the six cases in Shelby County represent people of various ages, of both genders, and from locations throughout the county. Some, but not all, of the cases are linked. “We’re in outbreak mode,” she said.
The health department is reaching out to people who may have been in contact with the infected individuals during their contagious period. They are providing treatment options and preventative measures for those people.
Morrow said the health department is prepared to move quickly and stop the spread of disease to unprotected individuals. “There have been nine cases in Tennessee in the last 10 years. There are six cases in Shelby County right now,” Morrow said.
Memphis residents are worried that their children may have been in contact with one of the infected patients.
One mother posted on Facebook that the health department came to her home and told her that her son was exposed. She rushed him to the hospital to start medication and is now quarantined inside her home with him for twenty days–or until she is told otherwise by the health department.
In another example, a Mid-South grandmother said her granddaughter was recently in Memphis for a pageant. She’s now at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital because she was exposed to the disease.
Measles is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable, viral infection that starts with a high fever, runny nose, cough and red eyes, followed a few days later by a rash that starts on the head and gradually moves down the body. It can be fatal, especially in people with compromised immune systems.
The vaccine is given to people at 12 months old, with a booster at 4 or 5 years old. Morrow said it’s a very safe vaccine with a success rate of 97 percent. The vaccine is required in most schools throughout Tennessee.
“The bottom line is measles is a rare disease, and we typically only see cases in kids that aren’t vaccinated,” Dr. Jon McCullers at Le Bonheur said.
Dr. McCullers said if you think your child has the measles, do not bring them straight to the hospital or to the doctor. Instead, call ahead first. That will give the health care provider a chance to make sure no other children are put at risk.