The county Department of Health and Humans Services Public Health Branch is urging Humboldt County residents to take precautionary steps in order to avoid the return of measles, a contagious disease nearly eliminated in the United States.

No measles cases have been reported in Humboldt County this year, but according to Humboldt County Health Officer Ann Lindsay, three cases of measles have been reported in Mendocino County in the past month. These are the first reported cases of measles in Mendocino County in the past seven years.

”The best defense against measles is vaccination,” Lindsay said. Those most susceptible to the disease are children, people without previous vaccination history and anyone planning to travel to Europe or Asia.

All three of the Mendocino County cases have been linked to adult European visitors. There are 5,000 reported cases of measles in Europe this year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, four people have died from the disease in France.

According to Lindsay, measles symptoms include a rash and fever. They are usually accompanied by a cough and runny nose. “The rash typically starts on the face and spreads downward toward the chest and back, then the thighs,” Lindsay said.

”If you have symptoms, call first rather than walk into a waiting room, where you could infect others,” Lindsay said.

According to Lindsay, measles can be passed through the air when someone coughs or sneezes.

For more information on vaccinations, contact your medical provider or the county Public Health Branch.