The state Department of Health is investigating five cases of the measles in Tennessee, according to Woody McMillin, director of communications and media relations for the department.

The cases involve residents in Madison, Gibson, Hardeman, Hamilton and Shelby counties.

"We have been in contact with all five individuals, and we are communicating with clinicians about the need for heightened awareness of measles symptoms," McMillin said in an email to The Jackson Sun.

McMillin said he couldn't give any more information about the cases.

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Symptoms of measles include blotchy rash, runny nose, fever, aches, watery eyes and white spots in the mouth, McMillin said.

"Persons who suspect they may have measles should contact their family clinician," he wrote. "Vaccinations for measles are safe and effective; we encourage people to visit the CDC website for information about those (http://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html) or to have a conversation with their family clinician."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, "measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus."

The CDC website says that about one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die.

Between Jan. 1 and May 9, 187 cases of measles have been reported in 17 states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington.

More information about the Tennessee cases is expected to be released today

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