Concern Over Measles Grows in North Texas

Five reported cases of measles in southern Texas are just the latest added to a growing list with outbreaks in New York and Washington.

Though no cases have been confirmed in North Texas, health officials here say concern is rising.

Tarrant Public Health’s Chief Epidemiologist Russ Jones said the number of phone calls from parents and physicians on possible cases has increased in recent days.

"They're watching the media reports. We have more physicians concerned, and if they see a rash, fever or illness they're giving us a call saying, 'We might have an issue here,'" said Jones.

When he does, he checks for a few key symptoms he says distinguishes measles from other diseases.

Those are the three C's: conjunctivitis, coryza, which is draining of the nose, and cough. He said all of those symptoms present before the telltale rash people are most familiar with.

"The rash typically for measles will feel like sandpaper. It starts around the hairline at the top of the head and then goes down," said Jones.

Measles is spread through coughing or sneezing. The virus can linger in the air for about two hours.

Jones said the number of vaccinated kids in Texas hit its peak in 1997 following an outbreak in the early 90s. Then it was around 95 percent. Today it hovers much closer to 90 percent, which Jones said isn’t high enough to prevent an outbreak.

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