Measles outbreak in Texas; Parents urged to vaccinate their children
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Health officials are trying to keep an outbreak of measles under control. They say 11 cases of the highly contagious disease have been reported this year in the state of Texas.
Most of the cases are in north Texas, but there is one reported here in Harris County.
A vaccine can protect you from the disease. You usually get two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine at the age of 12 months and the second dose when you are between four and six years old.
But when people don't get the vaccines, controlling measles can get problematic. And with the school year starting, it can be troublesome.
The Harris County measles case happened in April in north Harris County to a one-year-old baby. The child's exposure to measles was associated with international travel.
That appears to be the situation for six of the 11 cases of measles in Texas; people were exposed when they traveled to countries with measles outbreaks, and then they brought the disease home to Texas.
Experts tell us one person with the measles can expose dozens of people on an airplane, and babies are particularly vulnerable to the highly contagious disease noted for red spots because the first measles shot is not recommended until age one.
Dr. Jeffrey Starke with Texas Children's Hospital treated two babies who were hospitalized with the measles. Both were exposed while travelling before they were old enough to get their first shot. He suggests that parents protect their babies when traveling. He says to give them an extra shot, and give it early.
"It is strongly recommended for children between six months and 12 months of age. If they're going to do international travel, they should get the measles vaccine before they go," Starke said. "And then they should get immunized again at 12 months and then sometimes before school starts."
Symptoms of the measles are a red rash or spots, fever, cough, runny nose and sore eyes.
Parents who opt their children out of the required vaccinations are at extra risk when there's a measles outbreak. So are children with cancer and HIV, who can't receive vaccines for medical reasons.
healthcheck, christi myers
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