Orange County, N.C. — An outbreak of measles in Orange and Stokes counties has grown to 19 cases and spread to Polk County, state health officials said Tuesday.
Since the outbreak began two weeks ago, state and local public health authorities said they have notified more than 1,000 residents in Stokes, Forsyth, Guilford, Orange, Polk and Chatham counties who may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease.
Most of the 19 diagnosed cases involve people who live in or have visited the Prabhupada Village in Stokes County, officials said. Two of the patients attended the Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival in Chatham County on Friday while they were infectious but before becoming ill.
Most of the people who became sick have not been vaccinated against the virus, which is spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth and throat of an infected person.
Health officials are urging people to avoid visiting the Prabhupada Village until the outbreak subsides.
"Measles is an extremely infectious disease and spreads very quickly,” said Dr. Laura Gerald, state health director. “If you suspect you may be sick with measles, please call your health care provider before leaving home to avoid spreading the illness to people in doctors’ office or clinic waiting areas or in emergency departments.”
Initial symptoms include a fever of over 101 degrees, a runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough. A rash appears on the face after a few days and spreads across the body. People with measles are most infectious four days before and four days after the rash appears.
Health officials recommend immunization within 72 hours of exposure for those who have never been vaccinated.
Learn more about measles at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.