Washington State is under a measles state of emergency as measles cases grow and hot spots are flaring up across the country.

Local health officials in Hamilton County say as long as people are not getting vaccinated the potential spread is possible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said measles was eliminated in the United States in the year 2000, but it is still prevalent in parts of the world, which keeps the virus alive.

At least 50 confirmed cases in the northwest and health officials are worried it could continue to rise.

"Luckily we have a vaccine that works very well, the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, it's a childhood given vaccine. Most children start that at the age of one and it's a two-shot series," said Sharon Goforth.

Goforth is a registered nurse with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, she said there are no reported cases locally, but the risk is a possibility if people are not vaccinated.

The airborne disease is very infectious and can cause serious illness.

"Cough, fever, they may have an inflammation of their upper respiratory tract, they can also have conjunctivitis related to this," she explained.

The virus is most commonly known for the red rash it can cause which starts on your head and works its way down your body.

Being vaccinated is required for entering school systems, but some parents opt out. Some believed rumors the shots caused autism, but doctors said this isn't true.

"We know now that was totally unfounded, in fact the studies that were done on that and published were totally false, they were fabricated," Goforth said.

Incubation for measles is usually 7 to 21 days. Most people are going to be infectious before they even get the rash and because it's airborne the virus can linger for two hours.

"There's no treatment, it's just comfort measures at that point and time, making sure that you're keeping the fever down, it's literally just comfort measures," she said.

Though Washington State is thousands of miles away, it doesn't mean health officials locally are taking the situation lightly.

"That doesn't mean that in the back of our mind we're always mindful that we don't have or hope that we don't have anything going on here," Goforth said.

Anyone interested in receiving the vaccine can contact their county's health department. There is state assistance available, and health officials said they don't want payment to be a deterrent to keeping the community healthy.

If you are unsure if you received the vaccine, contact the health department. They can look up records on the state registry.