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Measles Information for Gaston County Residents

There are currently several measles outbreaks in various states across the nation. The Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services (Gaston DHHS) is working closely with state officials, CaroMont Health, and other local healthcare providers to prepare for any potential local cases of measles. No cases of measles have been reported in North Carolina during 2019, and there have been no documented cases in Gaston County since 1979. However, many states including Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee have reported recent cases of measles to the CDC; up-to-date information about cases and outbreaks can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html.

“Communication and collaboration are key elements to addressing any communicable disease risk, and we believe we are well-positioned in our county to handle this potential threat,” said Dr. Velma Taormina, Medical Director of Gaston DHHS. “We have strong local vaccination rates and close relationships with local healthcare providers like CaroMont Health and Gaston Family Health Services,  so should we have a case, we can work together quickly to minimize risk to the public.”

If the public has concerns about measles or would like to review their immunization record, they should contact their primary care provider or can call Gaston DHHS for guidance at (704) 853-5003. Additional information about measles is below.

 What are the symptoms of measles?

Measles typically begins with a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis). Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots.

 How is measles spread?

Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Also, measles virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed. If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch the infected surface, then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can become infected. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected

 How can someone find out if they are protected/vaccinated?

You can ask your doctor for your immunization record OR call DHHS at 704-853-5003.

 How can someone get immunized if they aren’t already?

You can go to your primary care doctor OR make an appointment at DHHS by calling 704-853-5003.

 If someone has been vaccinated are they at risk?

  • The measles vaccine is very effective. One dose of measles vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus. Two doses are about 97% effective. Very few people who get two doses of measles vaccine will still get measles if exposed to the virus. Fully vaccinated people who get measles are much more likely to have a milder illness and less likely to pass it to others.
  • Gaston County has good vaccination rates; when areas have good vaccination rates, they are much less likely to see outbreaks like those going on in New York and California.

 What should someone do if they think they are at risk?

  • If you have been exposed to someone who has measles, immediately call your doctor and let them know. Your doctor can evaluate you and determine if you are immune based on your vaccination record, age and laboratory tests.
  • If you are concerned that you have measles, immediately call your doctor and let them know about your symptoms so that they can tell you what to do next. Your doctor can make special arrangements to evaluate you, if needed, without putting other patients and medical office staff at risk.
  • If you would like to speak to our Communicable Disease nurse, you can call (704) 853-5003.

 Additional information from the CDC can be found here:

All about Measles (CDC)

Measles Information (NC Specific)

What do parents need to know?

What do providers need to know?

What do travelers need to know?