Health authorities reported three new cases of measles in Cobb County on Friday, where multiple people were quarantined since the average student was diagnosed with the virus earlier this month.
The three confirmed cases involve members of the same family and involve at least one adult. Officials determined that at least two of the three had not been vaccinated.
The family may have spread measles to other people between October 30-November. 13, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, which notifies people who may have been exposed to the virus and could be at increased risk of measles.
Authorities have not established a direct link to Mabri High School, where a student was recently diagnosed with measles. But the investigation into any possible link is ongoing and is highly likely, according to the state health agency.
"These additional measles cases should be of great concern to anyone who has not been vaccinated with MMR," said Health Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey, referring to the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. "A measles is a serious disease that can lead to dangerous complications, even death."
Toomey's medic said the measles vaccine was safe. And she said it was strongly recommended to protect the vaccinated and vulnerable population, such as infants who are too young to be vaccinated.
Dr. Walter Orenstein, associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center and professor of medicine at the School of Medicine at Emory University, said the three new cases are "very concerned" as it is unclear how the virus was introduced and spread here. There may be significantly more cases, he said.
In the USA, most cases of measles are the result of international travel. The disease is brought here by people who become infected in other countries. These travelers then spread the disease to people who have not been vaccinated.
MORE: What is measles and how can you prevent it?
MORE: Four questions about after-school vaccinations in Georgia
The Georgia Department of Health is not aware of a recent international trip for any of those diagnosed here.
All measles patients live relatively close to each other. A student in Mabri attends school until 1 November before being diagnosed.
Earlier this week, the health department announced that some students and at least one adult were quarantined at home. Two people familiar with the situation put the number at 17. Those home won't be able to return until the 21-day period is over, according to the state health agency.
Quarantine covers the time when the symptoms of the disease will appear and the infected person will be infected. This will happen by November 22nd. But after schools were closed for Thanksgiving holiday next week, those exposed to the virus will not return until December 2 at the earliest.
So far, 11 measles cases in Georgia have been confirmed so far this year – more cases than in the previous decade together
Public health officials ask anyone with measles symptoms to call a doctor first before entering a doctor's office or hospital .
Morba virus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Drops from the nose or mouth are transferred into the air or land on surfaces where germs can live for two hours. The measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people around it will also become infected if not vaccinated.
Stacey Smith, who used to come home with her daughter from Rocky Mount Elementary just a mile from Mabri Middel, said measles cases are worrying because the virus is now "in the neighborhoods" – not just in schools.
His third grader was vaccinated, and Smith said he and his wife received booster photos seven or eight years ago.
"Everyone will make their own choice whether to vaccinate their children or not," he said. "You hope people who know they are exposed will take appropriate precautions."
Although his family is protected, the news of more infected people in the area made him think of a high school exchange student. Spain that he and his wife host. He said he needed to find out if she was vaccinated.
"I'm going to wash my hands and wipe the counters," he added.
Outside of Mabri Middle, Tara Amos was waiting in a pickup truck.
She thinks the Cobb schools did a good job communicating with parents about an infected student there, "in a clear and alarming way."
he was initially alarmed until Amos explained that her vaccination should keep her safe.
"I felt that in our case we had nothing to worry about," Amos said.
In Georgia, vaccinations are compulsory for attending public schools, but there are two exceptions, one for medical reasons and the other for religious reasons.
"After all, I think it's their choice and I don't think it's my place to assume a second," Amos said.
About 93.6% of young Georgia children received recommended measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations, slightly lower than the national average of 94.7%, according to a study published in the October issue of the US Centers for Control disease and prevent morbidity and mortality weekly report. Also in Georgia, 2.5 percent of kindergartens had exemptions from at least one vaccine, which is the same overall rate for the United States
The CDC has registered 1,261 measles cases in 31 states in the United States since January 1, the highest since 1992.
The mortem can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children, as well as for pregnant women, the agency said.  About 1 in 5 non-vaccinated people in the United States who have measles have been hospitalized, according to the CDC. And as many as 1 in every 20 measles children get pneumonia, the most common cause of measles death in young children.
Supports true journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to Atlanta's constitution diary today.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution finances in-depth reports and investigations to keep you informed. Thank you for supporting true journalism.