JEFFERSON COUNTY • A confirmed case of the measles has been reported in Jefferson County, according to public health officials.
The Jefferson County Health Department is working to identify people who may have been exposed to the disease and will provide immunizations and care if necessary, according to a department statement.
The infected patient got the disease while traveling out of the country, though the department officials did not specify the country.
The highly contagious disease starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat and is followed by a rash that spreads over the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
It can spread through coughing and sneezing, and the virus can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed.
The case comes amid a national uptick of measles in the country. The CDC reported 206 confirmed cases from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, representing the highest year-to-date numbers in more than a quarter-century, according to the Washington Post.
Many of those cases were part of an outbreak in southwestern Washington state. Public health officials near Vancouver, Wash., confirmed at least 70 cases, most of them children under age 10 who had not received the measles vaccine, according to the Associated Press.
The disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 due to the vaccine, which means it was not being spread domestically, but cases have been rising in the past two years.
Measles is far more common around the world — the World Health Organization said it claimed 110,000 lives in 2017. The WHO says there’s been a 30 percent increase in measles cases in recent years.
Unvaccinated Americans traveling abroad, or foreign visitors here, can easily bring in the virus to the U.S.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.