KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The first Tennessee measles case of 2019 has been reported in East Tennessee.
It's only the second case to be reported on this side of the state since 2007 in Washington County.
"I've been practicing medicine for several years. I've never seen a case of measles," said Dr. Martha Buchanan, Director of the Knox County Health Department.
The state health department has not released which city or county the illness was reported.
One case of measles doesn't seem like a big issue until you learn how incredibly contagious it is.
"A single case of measles in the United States is always an urgent matter for public heath," said Buchanan.
That's because it's so rare.
Statewide, only 17 cases have been reported in the past 14 years.
"If we could get everyone fully vaccinated then we don't see it for long periods of time," said Dr. Shannon Cohen with East Tennessee Children's Hospital.
When it comes to vaccinations, Tennessee's records are pretty good. According to the state health department, more than 95% of kindergarten students were fully vaccinated before starting school in 2017.
"We really haven't had any ongoing transmission because we have such high vaccination rates," said Buchanan.
But if you're not vaccinated, the measles spread fast. People can catch the illness by being in contact with someone infected, or catch it airborne.
It starts like a cold, and then you get a high fever.
"Also you get red eyes and then the rash, which generally starts off on the face and then generalizes to the full body," said Cohen.
Measles usually lasts over a week, and since it's a virus, there's no medicine for it.
Severe effects can include seizures and brain swelling.
"One to two out of 1,000 [people] will actually die from measles," said Buchanan.
The state health department is investigating this newest case and working to make sure it does not spread past the one infected person.
"This I hope will highlight for folks the importance of being vaccinated," said Buchanan.
If you've had the two part measles vaccination after 1989, doctors said you're protected for life. If you got the vaccination before that year, doctors said you may need a booster.