Georgia confirms third case of measles linked to unvaccinated person who traveled internationally

The Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed a third case of measles this year in our state. The most recent case occurred in an unvaccinated person traveling internationally with a group of students.

In response, the department is working to raise awareness about the preventable disease. The goal is to keep the numbers down.

Dr. Jennifer Shu is an Atlanta pediatrician. She says measles is rare, but it is also one of the most contagious diseases out there.

"It does make me concerned because measles is probably the most contagious infectious disease known to man," Shu said.

Shu says the infectious disease was eliminated in the United States in 2000, but has made an unfortunate comeback since 2019.

"If you are susceptible, meaning if your not adequately vaccinated or immune from infection, you probably have over a 90% chance of catching the measles," she explained.

Most people received a vaccine as an infant, with the second round between 4 and 6 years old.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has been notified of 338 cases; 97 or 29% occurred during the first quarter of this year. Three of those cases have been documented  in Georgia.

"What we do know about measles is it can last in a room for a few hours, possibly longer depending on the ventilation, and you probably only need to be exposed to it for only a few minutes. To catch it if you are susceptible," Shu told FOX 5.

Doctors are concerned because the unvaccinated, particularly babies under a year old, are the most at risk. 

"Measles can cause high fever, it can cause a rash.  It can cause respiratory symptoms and breathing issues, lung problems. It can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, deafness and even death." Shu said.

The pediatrician says many times it is people who travel internationally and are unvaccinated that are catching measles and bringing it back to the U.S.

Once you get the vaccine, it lasts a lifetime.