Another three cases of measles have been confirmed in Cobb County, following the confirmation last week that a Mabry Middle School student had the highly infectious virus.
“At least two of the individuals with measles are unvaccinated, and the vaccination history of the third is unclear,” the Georgia Department of Public Health stated in a news release Friday.
The Georgia DPH publicly confirmed the first Cobb measles case on Nov. 9.
Mabry Middle School told all unvaccinated students to stay away from class until at least Nov. 22, while there is still a risk they could be contaminated on campus.
The state DPH said the individuals with confirmed cases of measles in Cobb may have exposed other people between Oct. 30 and Nov. 13.
“DPH is notifying individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and may be at increased risk for developing measles,” the organization’s news release stated, urging immediate vaccination for those who have not yet been immunized.
“This past weekend, another case of measles was confirmed in Cobb County,” the Georgia DPH stated. “It is highly likely these cases are all related, but the investigation into any linkage is ongoing at this time.”
So far this year, there have been 11 confirmed cases of measles in Georgia — more cases than in the previous decade combined, records show.
“These additional cases of measles should be highly concerning for anyone who is not vaccinated with MMR,” the DPH stated, citing the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia DPH, said the MMR vaccine is safe and about 97% effective.
“Measles is a serious disease, one which can lead to dangerous complications, even death,” she said Friday. “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.”
The DPH said measles spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and 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,” the department stated.
Measles starts with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out, starting at the head and spreading to the rest of the body.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children receive their first dose of the MMR vaccine between 12-15 months of age and a second dose between 4-6 years old.
More than 95% of the people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to all three viruses, the CDC states, while 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,” the Georgia DPH stated. “There is no harm in getting another dose of MMR vaccine if you may already be immune to measles (or mumps or rubella).”
People with symptoms of measles should contact their health care provider immediately, the DPH stated.
“Do not go to the doctor’s office, the hospital or a public health clinic without first calling to let them know about your symptoms. Health care providers who suspect measles in a patient should notify public health immediately.”