CHAPEL HILL – Thursday the state Department of Health reported an outbreak of measles in North Carolina—one case here in Orange County.

“We do have an understanding of where this originated; it was not in Orange County. The case we do have here has been moving back and forth between counties and was exposed else where,” said Stacy Shelp, public information office for the Orange County Health Department.

The state Health Department has identified six other cases in Stokes County—a total of seven known cases in the state right now—those numbers could change.

Shelp says the case reported in Orange County is a child. She says the child is at its home recovering.

The last time a measles case was reported in North Carolina was in 2011 and it was just one person.

“The initial symptoms are a lot like a cold: runny nose, cough, runny eyes, and fervor,” Shelp said. “Then it will move into the more commonly known rash associate with measles. It is unpleasant; it is extremely contagious being an airborne contagion.”

Measles can be prevented by the combination MMR— the measles, mumps, and rubella— vaccine.

Before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3–4 million people in the United States were infected each year, of whom 400–500 died; 48,000 were hospitalized; and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles. Widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The earliest a child can be vaccinated is one year of age and then the second dose can be given 30 days later.

The good news is that once you are vaccinated, you cannot contract the measles.

“Essentially measles has been eradicated in the United States with the exception of those who are not immunized and then most likely contract it while traveling abroad,” Shelp said.

WCHL will continue to track this story and update you with any new information as it becomes available.