Health officials in Harris County, TX reported Monday of three measles cases in the county. The patients include two children under the age of two and one adult. All three patients reside in northwest Harris County.

Image/Skeeze via pixabay
Image/Skeeze via pixabay

The last confirmed report of a measles case in Harris County was by the City of Houston in 2018.

So far in 2019, six confirmed cases of measles have been reported in Texas.

“Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus, which spreads to others through coughing and sneezing,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Executive Director for Harris County Public Health. “However, it is easily preventable. Parents and caregivers have the power to protect their children and themselves from this disease by getting vaccinated.”

Last summer, a paper published in PLoS Medicine named Houston, Fort Worth, Plano and Austin, TX as “hotspot” metropolitan areas for diseases like measles due to “philosophical-belief” vaccine nonmedical exemptions.

Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Measles is an airborne virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms of measles are a high fever, runny nose, cough, red-watery eyes, and sore throat that is followed by a rash breakout 3-5 days after symptoms begin.

Measles rash Image/CDC
Measles rash

Measles is highly contagious, and if one person has it, 9 out of 10 people around that person will also become infected if they’re not yet vaccinated. About 1 out of 4 people who get measles will be hospitalized. Measles is prevented through the combination MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.

How contagious is measles? Answer: Very

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children get two doses in order to be fully protected: The first dose at 12 through 15 months of age and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.

The best way to protect yourself and your family against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases is by immunization.