Texas measles cases share common thread

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by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on April 5, 2011 at 10:39 PM

TARRANT COUNTY — There have been just 13 cases of measles in all of Texas in the last 10 years. But now, Tarrant County is reporting two cases — the first in 17 years.

One case involves a woman in her 30s who was exposed during a trip to Orlando, Florida. She apparently spread the illness to a man who lives in the same household.

Tarrant County health officials are working to identify people who have come into contact with the infected man and woman.

It comes on the heels of a Houston girl contracting the virus, and it has now been revealed that she, too, traveled to Orlando last month.

With three confirmed cases of measles in Texas in less than a week, health officials have asked all three victims to isolate themselves.

"Our priority, since it's a highly contagious disease, is to identify all the contacts... evaluate them... and make sure they don't spread it to others in the community," said Dr. Anita Kurian, Tarrant County's chief epidemiologist.

Health officials say the Tarrant County woman contracted measles while on a trip to Florida, which is where officials say an 11-month-old Houston girl is also believed to have been exposed.

Experts are not yet saying the cases are linked, but they do confirm that the girl and the woman both visited Orlando, Florida during the first week of March.

Measles — which many recognize by a red rash on the body — is highly contagious and can cause serious complications, including pneumonia, bronchitis or even brain damage in the most severe cases.

Children get two vaccinations for measles, but it's unknown how long that protection lasts into adulthood.

Health officials are worried that the illness could have spread further. Measles symptoms are much like the flu, but the fever and runny nose come along with a red rash.

The disease is spread through the air.

If you have any symptoms, see your doctor right away.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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