As measles attracts more attention in the news due to the current outbreak in Washington state and the three confirmed cases in the metro Atlanta area, Cobb & Douglas Public Health urges residents to protect themselves and their families against the disease. Measles vaccine (MMR) remains the most effective prevention against the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all persons be routinely vaccinated between 12 and 18 months of age and receive a booster between 4 and 6 years of age. Documentation of two MMR vaccinations or proof of immunity to measles is required to attend school in Georgia.

If you or someone you know becomes sick or thinks they may have been exposed to measles:

  • Contact your healthcare provider immediately and let them know that you may have been exposed to measles. If you do not have a doctor, you should call the GA Department of Public Health at 404-657-2588.
  • DO NOT go to the doctor’s office, the hospital, or a public health clinic without FIRST calling to let them know about your possible contact with measles. Your healthcare provider or public health nurse will advise you about what you should do.
  • If you think you might have measles, stay at home and avoid contact with other people, especially babies less than 1 year of age or people with weakened immune systems.

What is measles?
Measles (rubeola) is a highly contagious vaccine-preventable disease caused by a virus.

What are the symptoms of measles?
Measles typically begins with a fever, followed by cough, runny nose, and/or red, watery eyes. After two to three days, the fever peaks and a rash appears at the hairline and spreads progressively downward covering the face, neck, trunk and extremities.

How is measles spread?
Measles is spread by air-borne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Individuals are infectious four days before rash onset to four days after rash onset.

What kind of vaccine is given to prevent measles? 
The MMR vaccine prevents measles and two other viral diseases – mumps and rubella. More than 95% of the people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to all three viruses. A second dose boosts immunity, typically enhancing protection to 98%.

Who is at increased risk of becoming infected with measles?

  • Infants who are too young to have been vaccinated (less than 1 year of age
  • Individuals who have never been vaccinated
  • Pregnant women
  • Immunocompromised persons (these include individuals undergoing cancer chemotherapy or other immune-suppressive treatments, transplant recipients or those with diseases that affect the immune system such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE)

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About Cobb & Douglas Public Health
Cobb & Douglas Public Health, along with the Georgia Department of Public Health, has been committed to the mission of “Healthier Lives. Healthier Community. since 1920. We are dedicated to improving our residents’ quality of life by tracking and preventing the spread of disease, promoting health and safety, providing exceptional medical services, and ensuring that our community is prepared for public health emergencies. For more information, visit