GOODING COUNTY, Idaho – Public health officials urge people to protect themselves against measles after nearly 50 people in Gooding County were exposed to the virus last month in Seattle.

The cases are being investigated by South Central Public Health District, which said in a news release on Thursday that a team of nurses and epidemiologists inspected all the patients and didn’t find any of them with symptoms of the disease. They will, however, continue to monitor the group for symptoms until May 18.

Health officials said residents south-central Idaho residents to check their immunization records and get vaccinated against measles if they have not already done so.

“The best way to protect yourself and your family against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is by immunization,” Public Health Division Administrator Cheryle Becker said in the statement. “By the time you start showing symptoms it is too late to vaccinate. That’s why we urge families to immunize before an outbreak hits their community.”

Individuals a year and older should get vaccinated to protect against measles, according to the health district.

Symptoms of measles include fever, runny nose, cough, and eye discharge followed by a fever and rash. If you are showing symptoms, and know you’ve been exposed to the disease, it is important you limit your exposure to other people so you don’t spread the disease. Call your health provider immediately and tell them you are showing symptoms and may have been exposed. Children should receive their first dose of measles vaccine between 12 and 15 months of age; another dose at 4-6 years of age.

“Measles is an acute, highly contagious viral disease. A small number of cases are capable of quickly producing epidemics,” Becker said. “It only takes one infected patient to start an outbreak.”

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