Area measles cases increasing

September 4, 2013

With multiple cases of normally rare measles confirmed in Tarrant County and the other areas of North Texas in the past month, the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) issued a health alert. Officials warn that the disease is highly contagious and are calling for immunization, but so far Hood County’s hospital has not had any cases.

Denise Pratt, R.N., infection control nurse at Lake Granbury Medical Center, said, “To date, at LGMC, we have not seen any positive tests for measles.”

An official with the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin said on Thursday afternoon that there have been 16 Tarrant County cases reported to state officials, and five were reported by Denton County. Media outlets have reported that multiple measles cases were believed to have been connected with a large church north of Fort Worth.

People who have had measles are immune for life, according to the TDSHS. Most U.S. children are vaccinated against the disease, but the vaccine is only 95 to 98 percent effective.

The TDSHS lists the following as symptoms of measles:

Fever, which may become very high when skin rash appears.

Runny nose.

Pink, watery eyes.

Dry cough.

Diarrhea.

Tiny white spots on the mouth lining.

Skin rash of dull red, slightly raised spots. The rash starts on the face and spreads down the body to the feet.

Complications associated with measles include ear infections; chest infections (pneumonia); diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain; and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Measles is spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. The incubation period is about two weeks from exposure to onset of a rash. People are contagious from four days before onset of rash to four days after its appearance, according to the TDSHS.

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