JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is urging residents to make sure they are up-to-date on their measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine after six people in Memphis tested positive for measles.
"Measles is a highly contagious disease," said Dr. Dirk Haselow, state epidemiologist and outbreak response medical director. "To prevent outbreaks of measles, we need a 97% immunization rate to protect those who cannot get the vaccine or who are too young to be vaccinated."
Last week the Shelby County Health Department in Tennessee confirmed six cases of the highly contagious disease in the Memphis area.
The ADH says it is "possible" Arkansas residents have been exposed.
The viral infection begins 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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in four people in the United States who get measles will be hospitalized. One out of every 1,000 people will develop brain swelling, which can lead to permanent brain damage.
The CDC says one or two out of 1,000 people who get measles will die, even with medical care.
Because it is highly contagious, the ADH is urging citizens who suspect they or their child might have measles to call ahead to their doctors or hospital before they go.
Those with children less than one year of age and those with weakened immune systems should make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.
MMR shots are available at local county health units. A list of locations and hours can be found at www.healthy.arkansas.gov. Walk-in appointments are available.
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