COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Georgia reported three additional measles cases in metro Atlanta on Friday, adding to the state's seventh reported case from Nov. 9.
Officials confirmed at least two of the people with measles are unvaccinated. The vaccination of the third patient was not immediately known.
The Department of Public Health performed tests on a fourth possible case, but results came back negative.
Others may have been exposed to measles from October 30 through November 13. Health officials believe they may be linked. Investigators said it all started with a student at Mabry Middle School.
Since then, health officials identified 15 to 20 students and staff, who either were not vaccinated or were a high risk of possibly contracting the virus. All of those individuals were told not to return to school until November 22.
“The entire incubation period can be up to 21 days,” said Dr. Cheri Drenzek, Department of Public Health.
FOX 5 News spoke to one parent who didn’t want to be identified.
“Still, I worry about it, you never know what can happen,” said the parent.
So far, health investigators said, no one else from the school has contracted the virus or showed symptoms. But investigators believe that students potentially came in contact and spread the virus to three individuals outside of school. It’s still unclear where but investigators believe it happened sometime between October 30 and November 13.
“It is really scary, I’ve heard it’s highly contagious,” said William James, Cobb County resident.
“It’s a labor-intensive and very time-sensitive investigation,” said Dr. Drenzek.
As they work to determine others who may be at risk, they are asking folks to pay attention to their symptoms and think twice before going to the doctor.
“If you develop symptoms of measles after exposure, please do not show up at the doctor's office or the emergency room without calling and making arrangements to be seen,” said Dr. Drenzek.
“These additional cases of measles should be highly concerning for anyone who is not vaccinated with MMR. Measles is a serious disease, one which can lead to dangerous complications, even death,” said Kathleen E. Toomey, M.D., M.P.H. “The MMR vaccine is safe and about 97% effective in preventing measles. Vaccination is strongly advised for individuals not only to protect themselves, but to protect vulnerable populations - such as infants who are too young to be vaccinated and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.”
These new cases bring the total number of confirmed cases in Georgia to 11 for the year.
The CDC recommends everyone over a year old should get the vaccine, except for people who had the disease as children. Those who have had measles are immune.
The vaccine, which became available in the 1960s, is considered safe and highly effective - paving the way for measles to be declared all but eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. But it has had a resurgence several times, including 667 cases in 2014.