Health authorities reported on Friday three new cases of measles in Cob County, where more people were quarantined because a high school student was diagnosed with a virus earlier this month.
The three confirmed cases involve members of the same family and include at least one adult. Officials determined that at least two of the three had not been vaccinated.
The family may spread measles to other people between October 30-November. 13, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, which notifies people who may have been exposed to the virus and could be at increased risk of developing measles.
Authorities did not establish a direct link with Mabry High School, where a student was recently diagnosed with measles. But an investigation into a possible connection is ongoing and is highly probable, according to the state health agency.
"These additional cases of measles should be of particular concern to anyone who is not vaccinated with MMR," Health Commissioner Kathleen E. said. Tommy, referring to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. "Measles is a serious disease that can lead to dangerous complications, even death."
Tomay, a doctor, said the measles vaccine is safe. And, she said, it is also recommended to protect the vaccinated person and vulnerable population, such as newborns, who are too young to be vaccinated.
Dr Walter Orenstein, associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center and professor of medicine at Emory Medical School, said the three new cases were "very worrying" because it was unclear how the virus was introduced and spread here. There may be significantly more cases, he said.
In the United States, most cases of measles are the result of international travel. The disease is brought here by people who are infected in other countries. Then, those travelers spread the disease to people who were not vaccinated.
MORE: What is measles and how can you prevent it?
MORE: Four questions about school vaccinations in Georgia
The Georgia Department of Health is unaware of recent international trips to any of those diagnosed here.
All measles sufferers live relatively close to each other. Student Mabry attended school on November 1 before being diagnosed.
Earlier this week, the health department announced that some students and at least one adult were being quarantined at home. Two people familiar with the situation put the number at 17. The homeowners will not be allowed to return until the 21-day period ends, the state health agency said.
Quarantine covers the time when symptoms of the disease occur and an infected person will be contagious. It will be until November 22. But with schools closing next week for a Thanksgiving break, those exposed to the virus will not return until December 2 at the earliest.
So far this year there have been 11 confirmed cases of measles in Georgia – more cases than in the previous decade combined.
Public health officials require anyone with measles symptoms to call a health care professional first before going to a doctor's office or hospital.
The chickenpox virus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Nose or mouth drops become airborne, or descend to surfaces where bacteria can live for two hours. Measles is so contagious that, if one person has it, up to 90% of the people around it will also be infected if not vaccinated.
Stacy Smith, who was walking home with her daughter from Rocky Mount Elementary, just over a mile away from Mabry Maid, said the cases of measles are worrying because the virus is now "in the neighborhoods" – not just in schools.
His third student was vaccinated, and Smith said he and his wife received booster shots seven or eight years ago.
"Everyone will make their choice whether to vaccinate their children or not," he said. "You hope that people who know they are exposed will take appropriate precautions."
Although his family is protected, news of a contaminated environment made him think of a high school exchange student from Spain that he and his wife host. He said he should find out if he was vaccinated.
"They're going to wash my hands and wipe the counters," he added.
Outside of Mabrey Maid, Tara Amos waited in the pickup line.
She thinks the schools in Cobb have done a good job communicating with the parents of the infected student there, "clearly and non-alarmingly".
Her seventh-grader was upset at first, until Amos explained that her vaccination should keep her safe.
"I felt like, in our case, we had nothing to worry about," Amos said.
In Georgia, vaccinations are mandatory for public schools, but there are two exceptions, one for medical reasons and the other for religious reasons.
"After all, I think that's their choice and I don't think it's my place to guess," Amos said.
About 93.6% of young children in Georgia receive the recommended vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella, slightly lower than the national average of 94.7%, according to a study published in the October issue of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Morbidity and Mortality. Weekly report. Also in Georgia, 2.5 percent of kindergartens receive at least one vaccine exemption, which is the same percentage for the US.
The CDC has registered 1,261 cases of measles in 31 states in the United States since January 1, the highest since 1992.
Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children, as well as for pregnant women, the agency said.
About 1 out of 5 unvaccinated people in the United States who get the measles are hospitalized, according to the CDC. And as many as 1 in every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of measles deaths in young children.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to the Atlanta Constitution daily today.
Take a look at the offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds them in the detailed reports and investigations that inform you. Thank you for supporting genuine journalism.