LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Department of Health said Thursday that test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed that least two of three siblings in Northwest Arkansas have the measles.
Ed Barham, spokesman for the Department of Health, said tests are pending on the third sibling.
Dr. Gary Wheeler, director of the department’s infectious disease branch, said the tests results are not surprising, based on the first medical exams of the siblings.
"The message is very clear," he said. "Immunizations are important for protection of the individual. They are also important protection for the community."
None of the three siblings had been vaccinated for measles.
On Tuesday, Department of Health officials said that two of the three siblings attend Ozark Adventist Academy near Gentry and unvaccinated students at the boarding school were sent home as a precaution.
The department said one of the three infected siblings — ages 10, 14, and 17 — recently returned from a European trip that included visits to Italy, Romania and Switzerland.
The school’s website Thursday said one of the two siblings attending the school had a confirmed case of the measles.
"By Arkansas Health Department guidelines that student will not be on campus during his/her active exposure time and any student who is not current on their MMR vaccinations have been required to leave campus during the incubation period," the website said. "Students up-to-date with their immunizations are considered at no risk and the school program continues as normal."
Measles is spread by direct contact with nasal and throat secretions of infected people, or sometimes by airborne transmissions.
Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough, conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, and a rash all over the body, the Health Department said. About 10 percent of children with measles also get an ear infection, and about 5 percent develop pneumonia.
For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die, according to the department.
Measles also can potentially cause a pregnant woman to miscarry or give birth prematurely.
There are about 50 cases of measles reported in the United States every year. In Arkansas, the department reported two cases in 2008 and one case earlier this year.