– For more information about Measles symptoms– Advice from the Mayo Clinic about prevention
An outbreak of measles hit the Tarrant County area in recent weeks and has alarmed health officials and residents.
Twenty-one cases of infection have been confirmed by the Texas Department of State Health Services. All the cases are connected to the Eagle Mountain International Church. Sixteen cases are in Tarrant County where the church is located, and nine of these are children. Those affected range in age from four months to 44 years. An additional five cases have been reported in Denton County.
The first case was confirmed Aug. 14.Health officials have traced the origin of this recent contagious disease to an individual who had traveled with the EMIC on a mission trip to a developing country where the disease is quite common. On his return home, he interacted with church members before knowing he was sick.
“This has been the largest measles outbreak (in Western nations) since 1995, and that outbreak was in England,” said Wesleyan nurse and health administrator Paige Hewitt.
Measles outbreaks can occur when individuals do not receive the vaccine. In recent years, some reports have linked the vaccination with cases of autism, resulting in some parents refraining from vaccinating their children for measles. However, Hewitt said that case studies have shown that measles vaccinations do not cause autism.
“The first measles shot you get is when you are 12-15 months old,” she related. “Autism usually presents itself in the 12-15 months before the age of three. The time that autism shows itself is around the exact same time that the measles shot is received.
“This explains why people would assume that measles shots cause autism,” she continued, “and that would make people scared.”
Measles are highly contagious and can be spread through the respiratory system.
“A sneeze, a cough, a kiss, or sex – any of that can spread the measles,” said Hewitt.
The symptoms of those who have the measles are a high fever (101-103 degrees F), cough, runny nose, red eyes, and finally a rash. Measles is a virus, so antibiotics are not effective. 
“The best way to treat the sickness is to treat the symptoms themselves,” stated Hewitt. “Rest, take Tylenol to relieve the fever, some medicine for the cold symptoms and, obviously, the most important thing is isolation to prevent spreading.”
Incubation for the measles is two weeks from exposure to the first sign of the sickness, which is fever. The contagious period lasts several days, and all the cases in Tarrant County are past the contagious period.
            The complications of the measles can be serious ranging from bronchitis and pneumonia to a deadly case of encephalitis. Anyone showing measles symptoms should see a doctor immediately. A blood test can confirm the sickness.
            “I would think that the most important thing is if the students felt that they had a high fever that they should go see the doctor,” Hewitt explained, “and that way they would know that it was the flu or if it is the measles.” 
            Students can go to any Tarrant County public health center or their local doctor for measles shots.