SA Metro Health urges up-to-date measles vaccinations

Greater Houston area reports five cases of measles

SAN ANTONIO – In response to a cluster of five cases of measles in northwest Harris, Galveston and Montgomery counties, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District is trying to raise awareness of the risk and the need for up-to-date vaccinations.

Rita Espinoza, the chief epidemiologist at Metro Health, said health care providers, emergency rooms and school districts are among those that need to remain vigilant, even though Bexar County has not seen a case of measles since 2007.

"Rash, fever, illness -- we always say, 'Maybe think about measles, and then, of course, look at their vaccination history,'" Espinoza said.

Espinoza said the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine, is 97 percent effective.

Outbreaks, or clusters, of measles cases are typically due to exposure in foreign countries that do not have the same robust vaccination programs as the United States, Espinoza said.

"Usually, you'll see individuals who may have went overseas, were not fully vaccinated and then came back and had the disease," Espinoza said. "Or you may see individuals who are traveling from other countries coming here who may not be vaccinated and develop the disease while they're in the United States."

Another factor, Espinoza said, is "unvaccinated populations, for whatever reason."

Espinoza said being unvaccinated "helps perpetuate the transmission from person to person."

As they bring awareness locally to the community, Espinoza said, her public health counterparts in southeast Texas are trying to pinpoint the reason behind the cases there.

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