Prior to the availability of the measles vaccine, annual measles incidence peaked in 1958 with nearly, 86,000 cases in Texas. Widespread vaccination decreased measles cases by 99.9 percent in Texas. Despite the progress made, outbreaks of measles continue to occur today.
The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed one measles case in 2017 and nine in 2018. As of July 30, 2019, TDSHS has confirmed 21 measles cases in Texas—a 2,000% increase from 2017.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and TDSHS, measles outbreaks often are the result of two main causes: an increase in the number cases imported to the U.S. from countries where measles still is endemic and transmission among communities with pockets of unvaccinated individuals.
Texas hospitals and health care professionals must remain vigilant to control and prevent the spread of measles statewide. To support this effort, the Texas Hospital Association and Texas Medical Association recently distributed a new resource with clinical guidance to help Texas hospitals, physicians and health care professionals combat measles and protect the health and wellness of their communities.
The resource provides the latest recommendations for diagnosing and reporting measles, ways to reduce further spread of the disease and the effectiveness of immunization to prevent it.
Measles-mumps-rubella vaccination is the most effective way to prevent measles transmission. The CDC recommends children and students receive two doses of the MMR vaccine. Adults, however, are protected with a single dose of the MMR vaccine.
Health care professionals who do not have written documentation of adequate vaccination or laboratory evidence of immunity should receive two doses of MMR vaccine, separated by 28 days.
In addition to vaccination, promptly identifying measles cases and implementing control measures immediately can reduce the risk of measles transmission and avoid the need for epidemiological investigations of potential health care contacts.
Measles is a notifiable condition in Texas, meaning hospitals, physicians, and other health care professionals and facilities immediately must report all confirmed and suspected measles cases to their local and regional health department.
Additional information on measles control and prevention is available from TDSHS' Measles Web page and the CDC's Measles Web page.