El Paso Reports Fourth Measles Case

Barbara Schwarz
July 18, 2019 - 7:16 am

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EL PASO (1080 KRLD) - The latest victim is 18 months old.  The other three involved two toddlers and a woman in her 40's. 

The two toddlers had not been vaccinated and had not traveled outside the community. The immunization status of the adult is not known.  All the cases were reported in the last ten days and are the first known cases in El Paso in 26 years.  Health officials say the latest victim attends a day care and they're trying to get immunization records. 

Bruce Parsons, assistant health director for the El Paso Health Department says before the introduction of the measles vaccine, there was an average of 500,000 cases a year in the United States with hundreds of deaths.  "But with the introduction of the vaccine, that number dropped precipitously.  We dropped to a 100 of so per year until recently. And now we have 1100 cases so far this year in the nation, and 15 to 20 in Texas."

He says they're trying to emphasis to look at this not just in the context of the disease being a health threat, but complacency being a health threat as well.   "Most people understand herd immunity.  That if most of the people are vaccinated, a disease that's covered by that vaccine doesn't get a foothold.  It doesn't spread rapidly in that community.  But if everyone thinks that somebody else is going to take responsibility for vaccinating their kids, vaccination rates go down dramatically."

He says it's everyone's responsibility to ensure they and their children are up to date on their vaccinations.

Measles is spread through coughing and sneezing and the disease usually begins with fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes. These symptoms are followed by a rash that spreads from the head down to the hands and feet. Measles can live in an airspace where an infected person was, for up to two hours.