One case of measles was discovered at Plano West Senior High School and according to health officials, the individual became sick last week. Anyone that visited the school between August 14 and August 16 may have been exposed to the disease. According to The Dallas News, health department officials are advising anyone that believes they may have been exposed to contact their doctor and monitor themselves for symptoms.
Symptoms of measles include a cough, runny nose, high fever (which can be as high as 101 F), and red, watery eyes. A rash usually appears between three to five days after the first symptoms appear, but it can take up to three weeks. The rash usually starts out as flat, red spots on the face and then spreads down the rest of the body. People with measles are very contagious from about four days before the rash appears to four days afterward and the illness is spread through coughing and sneezing.
Measles was declared to be eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but there was a record number of measles outbreaks in 2014 with 667 reported cases across 27 states. There was a large outbreak in 2015, as well, that was linked to a traveler who likely became infected abroad.
According to the CDC, most people who become infected with measles are people who have not been vaccinated against it. Texas is one of 18 states that allows families to opt out of vaccines for personal, moral, or religious beliefs. The Department of State Health Services reported that in the 2017-2018 school year, more than 56,000 students in Texas had not been vaccinated.
According to an editorial in Star-Telegram, the number of families that opt out of vaccinating their children has been on the rise since 2003. “In 2003, 3,000 Texas students said ‘no’ to the shots. Today that number has grown almost 19-fold, to more than 56,000, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. That’s a conservative estimate because it doesn’t include some children who are home-schooled or attend private schools.”
Anyone experiencing measles symptoms and may have been exposed should seek treatment. But it’s important to contact their doctor before visiting so precautions can be taken to prevent medical staff and other patients from being exposed to the virus. It’s important that people with measles isolate themselves at home to prevent spreading the infection to others.
Texas is not the only state that has had recent cases of measles. Other states include Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, and the District of Columbia.