NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An East Tennessee resident has been diagnosed with measles, and public health officials have released new information on when and where people might have been exposed.
Anyone who spent time at a Mapco Mart in Chattanooga on April 11, and at a Speedway gas station in Clinton on April 12, might have been exposed if he or she came into contact with the confirmed patient.
Dr. Tim Jones, the state’s epidemiologist, says even with just one known measles case, the Tennessee Health Department is taking a proactive approach to curtail the spread of the highly contagious, airborne disease.
“So far, we’ve only identified one case,” he states. “I will say that I will be shocked if we don’t see more.
“Measles is one of the most contagious diseases that we deal with. Personally, I’m almost certain we will see additional cases fairly soon.”
People recently infected with measles may not show symptoms, but still can transmit the virus for nearly a week before a rash appears on the face and body.
Other tell-tale signs of measles include high fever, runny nose, body aches, and white spots in the mouth.
Tennessee has had only 15 cases of measles in the last decade.
Since January, more than 600 individual cases of measles have been confirmed across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Unfortunately we are in the middle of a national outbreak,” Jones says. “There have been well over 600 cases now. I think there are over 20 states that have cases.
“So, before this, almost all the cases we’ve seen were people coming back from countries where it’s common. That’s not the case anymore.”
Jones says anyone with measles symptoms should first call a health care provider and make arrangements for a visit in advance, in order to prevent exposing others.
The state also has set up a hotline to answer citizens’ questions about measles. The hotline number is 865-549-5343.