(RxWiki News) Measles is a disease that spreads very easily among those without immunity to it. But it is also a preventable disease. New measles cases in Texas are sparking reminders about measles vaccinations.
The bulk of the Texas cases have been connected to exposure at a large church, and many of those who became ill never received the measles vaccination.
Public health officials in the state are reminding the public to check their vaccination status.
"Talk to your doctor about vaccinations. "
According to the latest update from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), there have been 20 confirmed measles cases in the current outbreak. Five additional unrelated cases were reported earlier in the year, and no cases were reported in the state during 2012.
Tarrant County, located in North Texas, reported 16 infections. These patients have ranged in age from 4 months to 44 years and included nine children and seven adults, according to Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH).
"Of these cases, 11 did not have any measles vaccination," reported TCPH. "The other cases may have had at least one measles vaccination, but there is no official documentation to verify their status."
Measles spreads through droplets in the air, which can happen when an infected person coughs or sneezes. "Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected with the measles virus," explained DSHS.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children receive two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. DSHS noted that in Texas, the measles vaccination is required for school entry.
As previously reported by dailyRx News, many of the cases have been tied to an exposure at Eagle Mountain International Church, a large congregation located in Tarrant County. According to TCPH, the initial measles patient became infected with the disease while traveling outside the US.
Symptoms of measles include cough, runny nose, fever and rash. According to the CDC, about one out of 10 infected children develops an ear infection, about one in 20 develops pneumonia, about one in 1,000 develops encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and about one or two out of 1,000 die.
The CDC stressed the seriousness of the disease, saying, "While measles is almost gone from the United States, it still kills nearly 200,000 people each year around the world."
TCPH urged people to protect themselves in the face of known measles cases.
"Unless one has had measles previously, or has been vaccinated, it’s best to get the vaccine," said TCPH. "While the vaccine generally takes about two weeks to become fully effective, vaccination even shortly before or after exposure may prevent the disease or lessen the symptoms in those infected."