Top things parents need to know about Measles

Health officials confirmed a case of measles in a child from North Texas last weekend.

It is the second child confirmed with the highly contagious disease in Texas this summer. Both children were too young to attend school.

On KPRC 2+ Now at 7, our Haley Hernandez goes over the top things parents need to know about measles with Dr. David Persse, Chief Medical Officer for the City of Houston. Watch their full interview above.

Here’s some more information provided by Dr. Persse and the City of Houston:

Haley: “Measles luckily is not reported as frequent as other childhood illnesses. Could you remind parents what exactly is measles?”

“Measles is a serious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Measles starts with a fever and then causes a cough, runny nose and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. The rash can last for a week and coughing can last for 10 days.

Measles is highly contagious and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 9 out of 10 people around them will also become infected if they are not protected.

You can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left. An infected person can spread measles to others even before he or she develops symptoms—from four days before they develop the measles rash through four days afterward,” Dr. Persse said.

Haley: “Are there serious complications when a child becomes infected?”

Persse said, “Measles can cause serious health complications, such as pneumonia or encephalitis or swelling in the brain, and even death.

  • Children younger than 5 years of age and adults 20 years of age and older are at high risk of getting a serious case of measles.
  • About 1 in 4 unvaccinated people in the u.s. Who get measles will be hospitalized.
  • 1 out of every 1,000 people with measles will develop brain swelling (encephalitis).
  • 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best care.

Before the U.S. Measles vaccination program started in 1963, about 3 to 4 million people in the U.S. got measles each year. 400–500 of them died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 developed encephalitis because of measles.”

Haley: “What the best way parents can protect their children?”

“The best protection against measles is measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. MMR vaccine provides long-lasting protection against all strains of measles.

Children need two doses of MMR vaccine for best protection:

  • The first dose at 12 through 15 months of age
  • The second dose at 4 through 6 years of age

If your family is traveling overseas, the vaccine recommendations are a little different:

  • If your baby is 6 through 11 months old, he or she should receive 1 dose of MMR vaccine before leaving.
  • If your child is 12 months of age or older, he or she will need 2 doses of MMR vaccine (separated by at least 28 days) before departure.

Children too young to get vaccinated or people with only had one dose of the vaccine are more likely to get infected and more likely to have severe complications if they do get measles.”

Haley: “What do parents need to do if they think their child may have measles?”

“If a child has a fever, rash and other measles-related symptoms, parents need to call their family doctor’s office, clinic or emergency room before the visit,” Persse added. “Anyone suspected of having measles must be promptly isolated to prevent the disease from spreading to others. Parents also need to tell the doctor or health care professional about any recent international travel or exposure to others who have recently traveled internationally.”

Haley: “Where can people take their children to get vaccinated if they lack insurance or are underinsured?”

Persse said, “The Houston Health Department offers the shots on a sliding scale basis at its four health centers across Houston. They are either free, $5 or $15 for all the shots a child requires. No one is denied for an inability to pay. People can call 311 to find their nearest health center.”