Six measles cases have been confirmed in Central Texas as of Feb. 6. The Texas Department of State Health Services Public Health Region reported five children and one adult female had been confirmed to have the measles.
The DSHS is encouraging health care providers in the Houston area to consider a diagnosis of measles for patients showing symptoms after five cases were confirmed this week.
In Harris County, two boys and a woman are being treated for measles. The woman is reported to be between the ages of 25 and 35, and the boys are both younger than 2.
A boy in Galveston County, who is between one and two years old, was tested on January 28 and confirmed to have measles.
Bell and Montgomery County both have a measles case involving children. The identities of the patients have not been released by DSHS, but the health department said the children were either too young to be vaccinated or had not completed the two-part vaccination series.
According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, 79 cases of measles had been reported in the United States by January 31, 2019. Ten states including Texas have reported measles cases; the states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
The Center has reported three outbreaks; the outbreaks are associated with travelers, who “brought measles back from Israel and Ukraine.” Israel and Ukraine are currently dealing with large outbreaks of measles.
The United States outbreaks, which are defined as 3 or more cases, are in New York State, New York City and Washington State.
According to the Texas DSHS, “Measles is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. Measles is so contagious that if someone has it, 90 percent of the people around that person who are not immune will become infected.”
DSHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend children get a dose of the measles vaccine at 12-15 months of age and again at 4-6 years. The measles vaccine is reported to be very effective; 97 percent of those who receive both vaccinations are immune. Children too young to be vaccinated or who have only had one dose of vaccine are more likely to get infected.
A hallmark of measles is a rash that begins as flat, red spots on the face and spreads down the neck to the rest of the body. Other symptoms include a high fever over 101 degrees, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Anyone who believes they have measles should contact their health care provider as soon as possible.
In 2018, Texas had nine confirmed measles cases. Last year was the highest number of cases since 2014, which had ten reported cases. In 2013, 27 cases of measles were reported in Texas; 16 of the 27 confirmed cases were in Tarrant County, according to the DSHS.
The health department said they are taking all precautionary measures to prevent the disease from spreading with five measles cases reported in Harris, Montgomery and Galveston country earlier this week. The measles vaccination, MMR, protects against measles, mumps and rubella.