Statewide health alert issued in Texas for measles - Dallas News |

Statewide health alert issued in Texas for measles

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The Texas Department of State Health Services issued a health alert Friday after 14 people across the state contracted measles, with the majority of the cases in Tarrant County.

State health officials confirmed there are nine measles cases in Tarrant County. Other measles cases in 2013 include two in Dallas County, two in Denton County and one in Harris County.

Tarrant County officials announced Thursday a parent and a child in northern Tarrant County contracted the virus after one of them recently traveled to a country where measles is common. It's believed the Tarrant County measles cases are connected to each other.

Tarrant County officials said Friday the "vaccination status of these individuals varies" and all infected people have been asked to stay isolated to avoid spreading the disease.

Measles was largely wiped out after a vaccine became widespread in the 1950s, making cases rare in the United States.

"Young couples, they've never seen measles, they don't know anything about it, they don't even recognize it if they see it," Anita Colbert, Tarrant County Public Health, said.

In Dallas County, the two infected children are related.

Dallas County Health and Human Services says one unvaccinated child traveled to another county in May, got measles, then came back and infected a 14-year-old sibling who was vaccinated.

Like many immunizations, the measles vaccine isn't fool-proof.

"The efficacy of the vaccine is not 100 percent," Zachary Thompson, Dallas County Health & Human Services, said. "So in most cases, we're seeing there is a protection there, but in some small cases, there may not be a protection."

But Thompson says immunizations are still the best prevention.

Measles, according to health officials, causes a reddish rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes and usually lasts one to two weeks. The measles virus can stay suspended in the air for up to two hours after an infectious person has been present.

Dallas County will host a free immunization clinic from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. Saturday at the Health and Human Services building.

Tarrant County will host a low-cost immunization clinic Saturday at North Davis Church of Christ in Arlington.

For information on other immunization clinics:

Dallas County Health and Human Services

Tarrant County Immunizations Clinic

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