Measles hits Jefferson County

Dena Hughes, TAN Healthcare (Triangle Area Network) CEO, said the Department of State Health Services has confirmed seven cases of measles infection in Jefferson, Galveston, Harris and Montgomery counties.

"As of July 30, there have been 21 reported cases of measles in Texas," she said. "To date, we are aware of at least one case in Jefferson County."

According to a July 29 DSHS measles news update, "Measles is so contagious that if someone has it, 90 percent of the people around that person who are not immune will become infected."

The agency's infectious disease control site notes that the airborn virus is able to survive for up to two hours in a space in which an infected person has coughed or sneezed."

Dr. Shannon Schrader, TAN Healthcare medical doctor, explained that individuals who have been immunized and do not have a compromised immune system do not face significant risk of infection. 

Schrader noted that while most of the public is aware that individuals who have not been vaccinated are at risk of infection, much of the public may not realize that other populations could be at risk of infection.

"Anyone that may have a suppressed immune system, which would be from HIV or from chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer, for example, are not protected against measles from an antibody protection and they may be at risk of contracting measles from a source that has the infection itself," he said.

Dr. Mina Tinaka, TAN internal medicine physician, said that not everyone who is at risk of infection is necessarily able to receive a vaccination. 

"There are people in our community who have medical contraindications to getting vaccinated," she said. "We have to look out for the greater good."

Tinaka said that for those who are able, obtaining a measles vaccination is a social responsibility but that caring for oneself should also be a priority. 

You have to look out for yourself, because you could be exposed to measles. If you don’t have that protection, then you could get very sick and potentially die from the infection,” she said.

Hughes noted that TAN Healthcare physicians and staff are working to ensure that area communities have the most up-to-date information, in part by hosting an October health conference that addresses measles, but individuals should remain proactive with their health.

“If you have questions about immunizations, or if you feel that you or your child may have been exposed to measles, do not hesitate to contact your physician or the public health department,” she said.