State Warns of Measles Outbreak

Four confirmed cases of measles in the past month and nine cases for the year prompted the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to issue a health alert and urge immunization. DSHS asked physicians and other health care professionals to watch for potential exposures and patients with measles symptoms, particularly in North Texas. DSHS said you should consider measles in your diagnosis if you have a patient with a rash and fever. If you suspect measles, report it to your local health department as soon as possible.

Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to him or her who are not immune or vaccinated also will become infected.

DSHS said the four most recently confirmed cases were in Tarrant County. Other with cases this year were reported in Dallas (2), Denton (2), and Harris (1) counties. There were no measles cases reported in 2012 and only six in 2011, it said.

The incubation period of measles is about two weeks from exposure to onset of rash. People are contagious from four days before onset of rash to four days after it appears, DSHS said. The rash usually begins on the face and spreads to the trunk. Other symptoms include fever (higher than 101 degrees), cough, runny nose, and sore eyes.

Vaccination even shortly before or after exposure may prevent the disease or lessen the symptoms in people who are infected with measles. Immune globulin given up to six days after exposure may prevent disease among susceptible or unvaccinated people at high risk for complications, such as pregnant women, people with weak immune systems, and children too young to be vaccinated.