Saturday, August 31, 2013
Denton County officials urge residents to get measles vaccine
More than 16 cases have been confirmed around North Texas.
Just in time for school, another batch of measles cases has sprung up in North Texas.
The Denton County Health Department confirmed five cases in individuals ranging in ages 9 to 17. The cases were linked to a previous case in Tarrant County, where a total of 16 cases were confirmed as of August 26, according to news reports.
"This outbreak is predominantly linked to travel," said Peggy Wittie, chief epidemiologist for the Collin County Health Department. "You had two cases in Dallas, one of which was linked to overseas travel. Then you had ... cases in Tarrant County, which were linked to that outbreak in a church in northwest Tarrant County, and then you had the five cases in Denton County linked to the same outbreak."
Health officials are encouraging residents to get vaccinations to help prevent the spread of the illness.
"For individuals who are unvaccinated, measles cases in the community should be viewed as a warning to strongly consider vaccination," stated Bing Burton, Denton County Health Department director, in a press release. "Those who are not currently immunized should re-evaluate the benefits and risks of vaccination, based on the presence of an outbreak."
Wittie said the only way to prevent contracting the illness is to get immunized with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.
"Washing your hands won't help with this one; you have to have the vaccine. It's not something you play with," she said. "Check with your doctor, who will know whether you have had the disease or the shot already."
The majority of individuals will have already had the vaccination, Wittie said, as it is a requirement for most school districts. But for those who have not had the vaccine, it's time to consider it.
"Measles spreads very efficiently and very effectively," Wittie said. "It's one of the most infectious diseases, and the only way not to get it is if you are immune. And the only way to be immune is to get the vaccine or if you've had the illness previously."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is spread through sneezing or coughing. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of people close to that person who are not immune will get it. Measles can live in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours.
How to spot measles
Symptoms typically appear in an infected person between eight and 14 days after being exposed.
• runny nose
• red eyes
• sore throat
Three to five days after the start of symptoms:
• a red or reddish-brown rash around the face or hairline
• spreads to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet
• fever may spike to more than 104 degrees
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 cdc.gov/measles.
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
Courtesy of Denton County