Some Americans are experiencing an entirely different way of “painting the town red” this New Year.

Measles infections are being reported in a number of states. North Carolina’s case is sparking concerns about a possible outbreak.

A case of red measles, also known as Rubeola, was diagnosed earlier this week in Moorseville, North Carolina — worrying health officials and highlighting the renewed threat of measles in this country.

The infected person was unvaccinated and had recently returned from a trip to India confirmed Rebecca Carter, the public information officer for Mecklenburg county. Carter said she could not release any additional details such as the age or sex of the person due to patient confidentiality.

Dr. William Schaffner said this case is no trivial matter, warning that measles is highly contagious, spreading easily through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat followed by a rash that spreads all over the body. It can also lead to death, he added.

“People without gray hair forget that before vaccines became available, measles used to kill approximately 400 children a year in this country,” he said.

Pennsylvania health officials are sounding the alarm about the potential spread of the disease at a popular children’s spot in the Philadelphia area.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is advising the public about a potential exposure to a case of measles in Delaware and Philadelphia counties.

A person who likely has measles may have exposed others at the following locations:

CVS Pharmacy, located at 316 E. Lancaster Avenue, in Wayne, Pa. on Sunday, December 28, from 5:30-8 p.m.

Please Touch Museum, Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park, 4321 Avenue of the Republic, in Philadelphia on Monday, December 29, from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

And five people were diagnosed in Michigan in December.

Health officials in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties are closely monitoring five people infected with measles, the state’s only cases confirmed so far this year.

Officials said unimmunized students would have to stay home from school for 21 days from the time the last case appears if the disease makes its way into a classroom, and they’re monitoring close contacts to try and prevent that from happening.

The widespread reports are of such concern that Dr. Haider Javid Warraich, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, penned the following piece for The Wall Street Journal: The Measles Outbreak Coming Near You

…Many developing countries continue to suffer from measles, an extremely contagious respiratory disease, but the U.S. in 2000 was declared “measles free” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The news of a confirmed case set our hospital abuzz, and uniformed CDC officers soon swooped in.

How did the young girl get the disease? Her parents had refused to vaccinate her.

Hers is far from the only case. Measles is making a terrifying comeback in the U.S., with some 600 cases reported this year, more than in any year in the past two decades. There are two reasons: the ease of international travel, and an increasing number of people refusing vaccinations, usually on behalf of their children.

Because parents seeking exemptions tend to be geographically clustered, these communities can become outbreak hotbeds. For example, the exemption rate in Orchard Prairie in Washington state is 24%, five times higher than the state’s median exemption rate and 13 times higher than the national average.

…The re-emergence of measles may be the harbinger of other infections such as polio returning from the history books.

Dr. Warraich recommends mandatory physician counseling before parents are allowed to receive vaccination waivers for their children, so that they are fully informed of the risks to their families and communities should they choose to forgo the injections.

As with Ebola, those traveling while infected (especially because the virus can be spread to others several days before the first spot appears) have been identified as a potential factor in the new outbreaks. The most recent example came during the crowded Christmas travel season:

Traveling through the same US airport gate, one infected passenger transmitted the measles virus to 3 others within a 4-hour time span, illustrating just how easily the virus can spread. These findings were reported in the Dec. 19 issue of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The measles “cluster” of cases originated at one gate at an unnamed US international airport, according to the report. Transmission likely occurred on Jan. 17. The gate in question was located in a terminal that only serviced domestic flights.

The first patient outlined in the report was a 21-year-old man. He developed a measles rash on Feb. 1 and had traveled on two domestic flights that connected at the airport about two weeks beforehand — on Jan. 17 and 18. Patient 2 was a 49-year-old man who also developed a measles rash on Feb. 1. He had reported traveling from the airport on Jan. 17. A third patient, aged 19, came down with the measles rash on Jan. 30. He said he had spent 4 hours on a layover in the airport on Jan. 17 as well. Finally, patient 4, a 63-year-old man, developed a measles rash on Feb. 5. He had also traveled through the airport on Jan. 17.

I suspect the news regarding infectious diseases will grow much darker by the end of 2015.