State health officials said the two new cases are associated with the first measles case reported in East Tennessee on April 18. The two recent cases were identified as part of the state’s ongoing contact investigation.
“We expected to have more measles cases linked to the first one, and these new cases occurred in people we had identified and were monitoring as contacts of the first patient,” Tennessee Immunization Program Medical Director Michelle Fiscus said in the press release.
“The good news is there are no additional contacts of these new cases that have not already been identified.”
While the outbreak investigation is centered in East Tennessee, the state health department urges all Tennessee to be aware of measles and its symptoms, which may include fever, runny nose, body aches, watery eyes and white spots in the mouth. Several days after these symptoms start, a red, spotty rash typically begins on the face and spreads over the body. Symptoms may develop any time in the 21 days following exposure to the illness.
Nearly one in three measles patients will develop ear infections, diarrhea or pneumonia. Measles can be fatal in approximately one to two out of every 1,000 cases.
State health officials also urge Tennesseans to ensure they are up-to date on the MMR vaccine. The measles virus is highly contagious and can stay airborne or live on surfaces for up to two hours. People recently infected with measles may not have any symptoms of illness, but can transmit the virus for about five days before the typical measles rash appears.
Anyone who believes they or a loved one has measles symptoms should stay home and contact a health care provider to make arrangements to visit a health care facility before going to a health care center to prevent further exposure of others to the illness.
People with questions about how to protect themselves against measles should call a health care provider, the local health department or a hotline established to provide answers to questions from the public about measles. The hotline number is 865-549-5343; calls to the hotline will be answered from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily until further notice.
The Tennessee Department of Health is providing information about measles and how to prevent it online at www.tn.gov/health/cedep/tennesee-measles.html. This page includes the number of measles cases in the state this year, which will be updated daily by 3 p.m. CDT if additional cases are confirmed.