NEWS ALERT

The Bell County Health District has confirmed one possible measles case of a child in West Bell County.

Two earlier cases have been ruled out, according to the health district.

All precautionary measures are being taken to prevent further spread. The children had not been vaccinated or had not completed the vaccine series.

Dr. Manjusha Gaglani, pediatric infectious disease physician at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center, said if the measles cases are pending and awaiting lab confirmation, residents shouldn’t panic, but be aware, especially among children who are 12 months and older who have not received their MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine is for measles, mumps and rubella, or German measles.

“They should go ahead and get the vaccination,” Gaglani said. “Children who are 4 years old and older and haven’t had their second dose should go ahead and get the second dose.”

By taking these measures, the community would be overall prepared if the cases are confirmed, she said.

“Measles are so highly contagious, vaccinations are our best bet,” Gaglani said.

The symptoms are a high fever, runny nose, cough and pink eyes. After two or three days of the symptoms a rash that looks like a heat rash will appear. It will first show up around the ears and along the hairline. It will then spread down the body. The rash will merge into red patches across the body.

“If your skin is dark it’s harder to see,” Gaglani said.

If there is someone in the family who is immunocompromised or are pregnant and haven’t received the vaccine, they should avoid contact with anyone with the measles.

It takes two weeks to develop full immunity to the disease after the being inoculated.

“If you are exposed to the measles without having had the vaccination, there is a 90 percent chance of developing the disease,” she said.

Parents who have a child who might have the measles should seek medical help, but call before showing up at a clinic.

“When you make the appointment, make the clinic aware of the possibility of it being a case of measles, so we can be ready,” Gaglani said. “We have to put the patient in an airborne isolation room. We put masks on them as soon as they enter and we don’t want them in the waiting room.”

The virus is spread by droplets from the coughing and sneezing, which can stay suspended in air particles for two hours.

Young children may become dehydrated, because they can become very sick.

The youngest patients can get bacterial infections, ear infections and pneumonia and the mortality rate is high because of all the complications, she said.

An individual with the measles is contagious four days before the rash appears and four days after the rash disappears. Those exposed can become ill within seven to 21 days.

Five cases of measles were confirmed in the greater Houston area this week.

The cases, all announced Monday, include three in Harris County, one in Galveston County and one in Montgomery County. They involve four children, all less than 2 years of age, and a woman between the ages of 25 and 35.

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