The Denton County Health Department has confirmed five cases of measles, based on clinical symptoms and a link to a previous case. The cases range in age from nine to 17, and are located in the Justin area. All five cases were not immunized. All cases are linked to one previously identified case in Tarrant County, who had traveled outside the United States to a country where measles is common.
The most effective way to prevent measles is to be vaccinated. Health officials are encouraging residents to check their vaccination records with their health care provider.
“For individuals who are unvaccinated, measles cases in the community should be viewed as a warning to strongly consider vaccination,” says Denton County Health Department Director, Bing Burton. “Those who are not currently immunized should re-evaluate the benefits and risks of vaccination, based on the presence of an outbreak.”
All children should receive one dose of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine between 12-15 months of age, and a second dose before entering school, between four and 6 years. Anyone born during or after 1957 who has not had measles or been vaccinated is at risk and should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine. Two doses are recommended for adults who are at higher risk, such as college students, international travelers, and healthcare personnel. Adults born before 1957 are considered immune to measles.
Two measles cases were reported in Denton County earlier this year, with the initial case being a person who traveled to the United States from another country where measles is endemic. Prior to 2013, there have not been any measles cases in Denton County for several years.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is spread through sneezing or coughing. The virus can live in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours. Measles spreads through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of people close to that person who are not immune will get it.
Measles symptoms typically appear in an infected person between eight to 14 days after being exposed. A typical case of measles begins with a fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and sore throat. Three to five days after the start of symptoms, a red or reddish-brown rash appears around the person’s face or hairline, and spreads to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. The person’s fever may spike to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. People are considered contagious from four days before to four days after the rash appears.
Additional information about the measles illness, complications, and MMR vaccine safety can be found at www.cdc.gov/measles.