Texas Health Agency Issues Measles Alert

Texas Health Agency Issues Measles Alert

After no confirmed cases were reported in Texas last year, there have been 11 thus far in 2013.

Six measles cases statewide that have been confirmed within the past month, and 11 cases so far this year, prompted the Texas Department of State Health Services to issue a health alert on Aug. 16. The agency is urging Texans to be immunized against this highly contagious illness.

All six of the most recently confirmed cases are from Tarrant County, where Fort Worth is the largest city. The agency is asking health care providers to be on alert for potential exposures and patients with measles symptoms. Other Texas counties with cases this year include Dallas (two cases), Denton (two) and Harris (one case). Houston is is Harris County.

No measles cases were reported in Texas in 2012; there were six cases in 2011.

"The incubation period of measles is about two weeks from exposure to onset of rash. People are contagious from four days before onset of rash to four days after the appearance of rash. The rash usually begins on the face and spreads to the trunk. Other symptoms include fever (higher than 101 degrees), cough, runny nose and sore eyes," the agency's Aug. 16 notice states. "Doctors should consider measles in their diagnosis if they have a patient with a rash and fever. If measles is suspected, they should report the patient to their local health department as soon as possible. People who have measles or are suspected of having measles should seek medical attention and otherwise stay home until four days after the rash appeared. Vaccination even shortly before or after exposure may prevent the disease or lessen the symptoms in people who are infected with measles. Immune globulin given up to six days after exposure may prevent disease among susceptible or unvaccinated people at high risk for complications, such as pregnant women, people with weak immune systems and children too young to be vaccinated.

The health alert, including vaccination recommendations, is available here.

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