Health & Science

What You Need to Know About the Measles Case In Harris County

Harris County is still investigating a rare case of measles in a young boy. Although the boy appears to have contracted the virus overseas, health officials are still taking the case very seriously.

The boy was unvaccinated and had recently traveled abroad. His symptoms began in late March.

Health officials are now tracking medical workers and other patients who were potentially exposed when the boy visited doctors’ offices.

Anna Dragsbaek is president of The Immunization Partnership, a local nonprofit. 

She says there’s no need for panic, since the public health system is tracking the case closely.

But she says it’s a good reminder for people, especially parents of young children.

“Even if there’s just one case of measles, I think that parents should still sit up and take notice. Because one case, although hopefully it doesn’t spread to any more children, could result in an outbreak if people around that child are not fully immunized.”

Children cannot get vaccinated against measles until age one.

After that, they start the measles, mumps, rubella series of vaccines.

Unfortunately, some parents have delayed this MMR vaccine because of unfounded fears about vaccines.

“Measles is a highly, highly contagious disease. It’s caused by a virus and it can spread and have very severe consequences or complications such as encephalitis, problems with hearing, and some other pretty severe complications especially for women who are pregnant.”

In 1958, before vaccination began, measles peaked in Texas with 85,000 cases.

Now there are usually less than 10 cases a year statewide, all usually “imported” by travelers.

Recently, public health officials have been more focused on pertussis, or whooping cough.

That illness is also preventable by vaccine, but Texas has seen hundreds of cases every year — again, because of gaps in vaccination of children.