As we prepare for the start of a new school year, parents across the area are making sure their children have everything they need to go back to class.
Immunizations, of course, are high on the list.
Parents routinely check with their doctors or clinics at this time of year to make sure that all vaccinations are up to date, and many parents will now be double-checking to make sure that measles vaccine is checked off the list.
The Denton County Health Department confirmed Wednesday the discovery of five cases of measles, based on clinical symptoms and a link to a previous case.
The people range in age from 9 to 17 and are located in the Justin area. All five people were not immunized, health officials said.
All of the cases are linked to one in Tarrant County that involved a person who had traveled to a country where measles is common.
Sarah McKinney, spokeswoman for the health department, said the cases were just recently reported.
“The investigation process is about a day or so; we have to get everything confirmed,” she said.
In a news release, county health department director Bing Burton encouraged vaccination.
“For individuals who are unvaccinated, measles cases in the community should be viewed as a warning to strongly consider vaccination,” he said. “Those who are not currently immunized should re-evaluate the benefits and risks of vaccination, based on the presence of an outbreak.”
The health department advises that all children should receive one dose of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine between 12 and 15 months of age, and a second dose before entering school, between 4 and 6 years old.
Anyone born in or after 1957 who has not had measles or who has not been vaccinated is at risk and should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine.
Two doses are recommended for adults who are at higher risk, such as college students, international travelers and health care personnel. Adults born before 1957 are considered immune to measles.
Two measles cases were reported in Denton County earlier this year, with the initial case being a person who traveled to a country where measles is endemic. Prior to 2013, there had not been any measles cases in Denton County for several years.
McKinney said county health officials are not expecting an outbreak like Tarrant County has seen.
“We’re not anticipating that at this time,” she said. “These cases were linked with symptoms to the initial Tarrant County case, so that’s all we have at this time.”
We encourage parents to follow the health department’s advice and talk to their doctors about the benefits of measles vaccine.
Many adults suffered through the measles when they were young, and although some cases were worse than others, they know that the disease should not be taken lightly. More information about the measles, potential complications and MMR vaccine safety can be found at www.cdc.gov/measles.
One of the great benefits of modern medicine is the ability to protect our families from many illnesses that once were commonplace.
No one wants to overreact, but it never hurts for parents to do their homework before sending their children back to school.
Like someone once said, an ounce of prevention. ...