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Health Department Issues Statewide Measles Alert

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – State health officials are so concerned about the recent cases of a contagious disease that a statewide measles alert has been issued. Tarrant County has more measles cases than the entire state has seen in three years, which prompted the health warning.

The alert, issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services, is urging everyone in the state to make sure they have been immunized against the highly contagious illness.

“I had my children vaccinated at an early age so I’m not too concerned,” said one mother from Fort Worth.

This year alone there have been 14 confirmed cases of measles in Texas, and 13 of those are all here in North Texas. Within the last month, nine cases of measles have been confirmed in Tarrant County alone. Both Dallas and Denton County have had two cases each.

Health officials say the nine measles cases in Tarrant County are connected and involve patients who recently arrived from another country, meaning the patient traveled out of the country, contracted the virus, and then brought it back to the U.S. where they infected someone close to them.

To put that in perspective consider that there were no measles cases reported in Texas in 2012 and only six cases in 2011.

State health officials are now asking health care providers to consider measles when diagnosing patients that have compatible symptoms. Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. Officials say measles are so contagious that anyone exposed to it, who has not been immunized, will most likely get the disease.

“They say that 90-percent of the people exposed to an infected person, who aren’t protected with vaccines, will get it,” explained Dr. Bradley Jones, a physician at Baylor Medical Center at Irving. “You can everything from eyes being irritated, cough, a runny nose, high fever, you can get some spots on your gums and then you can also get a rash all over your body.”

The incubation period of measles is about two weeks and people are contagious from four days before onset of rash to four days after the appearance of rash.

The only other reported case of measles in Texas was in Harris County. Health official are urging people, including doctors, to keep a look out for symptoms of measles in others so that the outbreak can stop before it gets any worse.

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