Nine new measles cases Wednesday tied to church outbreak - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Nine new measles cases Wednesday tied to church outbreak

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Five new measles cases in Denton County and four new cases in Tarrant County on Wednesday brought the overall number of cases connected to a church to 20.

All of the cases are tied to an outbreak that originated from the Eagle Mountain International Church. An adult visited the Newark church in far northwest Tarrant County after contracting the disease while traveling abroad on a mission trip.

Denton County officials announced Wednesday they had five new cases of measles connected to the outbreak - the first cases outside Tarrant County related to the church.

Denton County officials said the ages of the measles patients range from nine to 17 and none of the children were immunized. All of the patients live in the Justin area of southern Denton County.

Tarrant County's four new cases bring the total in that county to 15 measles cases.

Tarrant County officials previously said the strain of measles in the county is commonly found in Asia, according to their analysis.

Eleven of the 15 patients in Tarrant County who have contracted the virus were not immunized against measles, officials said, and ranged in ages from four months to 44 years old. Twelve of the 15 patients are no longer infectious.

Pastor Terri Pearsons told the congregation about the outbreak at a recent service, closed the church day care, scrubbed the entire campus and held free vaccination clinics for members.

To prevent more cases, the church also gave members three choices.

"You can either get immunized, you can show us that you've been immunized or you get a choice of self isolating for a time period," Robert Hays, Eagle Mountain International Church, said.

Dr. Karen Smith, who runs the on-site clinic for Kenneth Copeland Ministries, says some families had been hesitant about the measles vaccination.

"It's the most controversial. Hollywood thinks it causes autism. Blogs all over the Internet think it causes autism," Dr. Smith said. "There are a group of people in our congregation that feel that way, and had waited."

Hays says one family chose self-isolation first, but changed their mind.

"I think some of the alternative medicine doctors who are famous in America are saying wait until your child is older," Dr. Smith said, "That process got sped up."

The Texas Department of State Health Services issued a health alert last Friday after enough people across the state contracted measles. Other unrelated measles cases in 2013 include two in Dallas County, two in Denton County and one in Harris County.

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

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.

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    Five new measles cases in Denton County and four new cases in Tarrant County on Wednesday brought the overall number of cases connected to a church to 20.
    Five new measles cases in Denton County and four new cases in Tarrant County on Wednesday brought the overall number of cases connected to a church to 20.
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