Talk to Patients About: Measles Update
By Sean Price Texas Medicine October 2019

Measles outbreaks in the U.S. were once a rare event, but in 2019 they turned into a potential public health crisis.

Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 8, more than 1,200 cases of the deadly disease – which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared eradicated in America in 2000 – have been confirmed in 30 states.

As of August, 21 of those cases were in Texas, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). In fact, this year Texas already has had one official measles outbreak – defined by CDC as three or more related cases. El Paso County had six cases so far in 2019, the highest number of any Texas county, DSHS says.

Measles could spread farther in Texas. Sixty-nine accredited private K-12 schools in Texas have rates of vaccine exemptions for non-medical reasons of 10% or higher, according to DSHS. Because measles is highly contagious, those schools are possible hotspots. (See “Mobilizing Against Measles,” July 2019 Texas Medicine, pages 22-29, www.texmed.org/MobilizeAgainstMeasles.)

The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best defense against measles, CDC says. Unvaccinated children are most at risk and should get two doses, usually at 12 to 15 months and again at 4 to 6 years of age. Older people may need the vaccine as well.

CDC has more information for health care professionals at tma.tips/CDCmeasles. Local health departments also may issue notifications of nearby outbreaks and vaccination recommendations.

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Last Updated On

October 01, 2019

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Sean Price

Reporter

(512) 370-1392

Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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