South Carolina health officials announced that there is a case of the measles in the state, the first in 21 years.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control learned of a resident in Georgetown County with the measles, they announced Aug. 11, and said that they cannot release more information on the patient due to privacy laws.
This is the first case of the measles reported in the state since a 1997 case in Charleston, and just the second since 1990.
Measles was declared to be eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but is still common in other parts of the world, such as Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Cases in the U.S. typically start after someone returns from international trips, and the highly contagious disease can spread quickly among communities with unvaccinated people.
Measles used to be a severe health problem in the U.S., affecting 3 to 4 million people each year, until the child vaccination program began in 1994.
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The best way to prevent the measles is to get vaccinated, said Dr. Linda Bell, the state epidemiologist for South Carolina’s DHEC.
“Measles is an acute viral respiratory illness and is highly contagious,” she said in a press release. “It is critical that healthcare providers and the public be aware of the symptoms associated with this disease. The best way to prevent measles is by vaccination. I strongly encourage everyone review to their immunization records and make sure there are no other immunizations you need.”
The measles vaccination also protects the community.
“People should get vaccinated for these preventable illnesses. For those who don’t get vaccinated, they are putting the most vulnerable people at risk in the population,” Dr. Jennifer Lighter Fisher, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center, previously told PEOPLE.