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Tennessee health officials have launched an investigation after the first measles case of 2019 was confirmed. 

The case was reported in East Tennessee, according to a news release. 

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.

Symptoms may include fever, runny nose, body aches, watery eyes and white spots in the mouth. The illness is typically accompanied by a red, spotty rash that begins on the face and spreads over the body.

State officials are urging residents to get vaccinated to prevent it from spreading. 

"This appearance of measles is a reminder about the importance of vaccines and how they can particularly protect our most vulnerable, including infants and those with compromised immune systems," said state epidemiologist Dr. Tim Jones. 

All children should have their first measles vaccinations at age 12-15 months, followed by a second dose at four to 6 years old, the release states. Teens and adults should check with their doctors to make sure they are protected against measles.

"Most people in Tennessee are vaccinated against measles and that's important, but infants and those with weakened immune systems are still at high risk for infection," said Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey. "The measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine is safe and widely available. Call your health care provider to check your immunization status and schedule your vaccine if you haven't had one."

There are currently cases in 20 states, with the largest outbreak being in New York. Tennessee has had only 15 cases of measles in the last decade, the release states.

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

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