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Measles in East Tennessee

On April 29, 2019, the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) State Public Health Laboratory announced additional confirmed cases of measles in residents of East Tennessee. The first measles case in Tennessee this year was announced April 18 and additional cases were identified as part of the ongoing contact investigation.

Investigations are ongoing.  Visit the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) State Public Health Laboratory website for updates.

“We expected to have more measles cases linked to the first one, and these new cases occurred in people we had identified and were monitoring as contacts of the first patient,” said Tennessee Immunization Program Medical Director Michelle Fiscus, MD, FAAP. “The good news is there are no additional contacts of these new cases that have not already been identified.”

While this outbreak investigation is currently centered in East Tennessee, all Tennesseans should be aware of measles and its symptoms. Measles symptoms may include fever, runny nose, body aches, watery eyes and white spots in the mouth. Several days after these symptoms start, a red, spotty rash typically begins on the face and spreads over the body. Symptoms may develop any time in the 21 days following exposure to the illness. Nearly one in three measles patients will develop ear infections, diarrhea or pneumonia. Measles can be fatal in approximately one to two out of every 1,000 cases.

All University of Tennessee students, faculty, and staff are urged to ensure they are up-to-date on their measles vaccine (MMR), which is extremely effective in preventing infection. The measles virus is highly contagious and can stay airborne or live on surfaces for up to two hours. People recently infected with measles may not have any symptoms of illness, but can transmit the virus for about five days before the typical measles rash appears.

To prevent further exposure of others to a potentially infectious illness, anyone who believes they have symptoms of measles, should stay home and contact a health care provider to make arrangements to visit their health care facility before going there.

People with questions about how to protect themselves against measles should call their health care provider or their local health department.

If needed, students may schedule an appointment for inquiries regarding their immunization status with the Student Health Center (SHC) Allergy and Immunization Clinic by contacting an Appointment Clerk at 865-974-3648. These appointments are not available online.

Students may also contact the Student Health Center Telephone Triage Nurse at 865-974-5080 with other measles-related questions or concerns or to schedule an appointment for evaluation of possible measles-related symptoms.

For more information about measles, visit: www.cdc.gov/features/measles/index.html.


Information and resources provided by Dr. Spencer Gregg, Director of the Student Health Center.


Division of Student Life