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ASHEBORO, N.C. — The Randolph County Health Department is offering free measles vaccinations this week after state health officials warned last week of an outbreak.

Vaccinations will be given from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the health department, located at 2222 B South Fayetteville St. in Asheboro.

Appointments are not necessary.

In addition, a special clinic for MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the health department.

As of Friday, state officials said seven cases of measles have been confirmed in residents of Stokes and Orange counties.

Six of the seven confirmed cases are with residents in Stokes County, according to Zach Moore with the N.C. Division of Public Health.  The one case in Orange County is related to the Stokes County cases, Moore said.

None of the people who have confirmed cases were vaccinated, Moore added.

Randolph County officials said Monday that “close contacts” to the confirmed cases “have been identified in Guilford and Chatham counties.”

State Health Director Dr. Laura Gerald said cases of the measles are “very uncommon” in North Carolina.

“Measles spreads quickly, particularly in children and adults who aren’t vaccinated,” Gerald said.  “We want to make the public aware of this outbreak so individuals can take steps to protect themselves and their families.”

Measles is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing.  It also can be transmitted through contact with secretions from the nose or mouth of an infected person.

“if you are exposed to someone who’s got it and you haven’t been vaccinated then you are probably going to get it,” said Dr. Chris Ohl Infectious Disease Specialist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Initial symptoms may include fever, runny nose, watery red eyes and cough. After a few days, a rash appears on the head and spreads over the entire body.

Measles can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children.  The disease poses serious risks for pregnant women, including miscarriage and premature birth.

Although the early symptoms of measles can be similar to those of many other infections, Gerald says anyone with fever, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough, should stay at home and limit contact with others to avoid spreading illness.

If you develop a rash or if your symptoms worsen, call your doctor or seek medical care.

If you do seek medical care, call your doctor’s office or health care facility before you go so they can prepare for your visit and protect other patients from exposure.

More information about measles can be found at publichealth.nc.gov.