Measles comes back to Houston

We all vaccinated our kids, right?

Five cases of measles have been confirmed in the greater Houston area, a regional cluster that makes Texas the eleventh state this year to report the highly contagious disease until recently thought virtually eliminated in the U.S.

The cases, all announced Monday, include three in Harris County, one in Galveston County and one in Montgomery County. They involve four children, all under 2 years of age, and a woman between the ages of 25 and 35. All are doing well now.

“This is a reminder for people to be on guard and be up to date on their vaccinations,” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director for Harris County Public Health. “Measles, a serious disease, is in our community.”

Measles, caused by an airborne virus, is particularly dangerous, capable of causing serious neurological disorders and death in infants and the developing fetus in pregnant women. It is spread through direct contact with discharge through the nose and mouth as well as coughing and sneezing.

Shah said it was too early to say whether the five cases might be the start of a local outbreak. The counties are monitoring anyone exposed to the measles patients while they were contagious to see if they develop symptoms. None has so far.

Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, said he’s concerned because in the pre-vaccine era, measles typically peaked in the late winner and early spring. He said “a perfect storm could be coming.”


It was unclear Monday if a lack of vaccination played a role in any of the Houston-area cases. All four children had received the first of the two shots — the second is given between the ages of 4 and 6 — and the woman said she’d been vaccinated, though the county is still working to confirm that through records.

Shah noted that the first dose of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is fully protective in 85 percent of those who get it, but there’s no way of knowing if a child is in that group or the 15 percent who need the second shot to receive full protection.

Shah also noted that the person or persons who originally transmitted the virus may have been unvaccinated, he said.

The good news is that this outbreak is limited. This story said that Houston’s vaccination rate is above the national average, while this other story says just the opposite; I’m not sure what to make of that. It’s still a lot of cases at one time, and we’re already close to the nine cases total in Houston from last year. It could be worse, as the people in the greater Portland area can attest, but there’s no reason at all why it should be. You can listen to a short but timely interview with Dr. Hotez about the resurgence of measles here, and Texas Monthly has more.

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3 Responses to Measles comes back to Houston

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Oh, lookie…..patient zero turns out to be a foreigner. Was it an illegal alien? We don’t know, because that information won’t be released by the government. Why not? Don’t we have a right to know how that foreign illness carrier got here? What country that person is from? Legal status?

  2. Mainstream says:

    Ironically, vaccination rates for illegal immigrants are often better than for native-born Americans because in the origin countries like Mexico and Central America, vaccination is nearly universal.

    Bill, in your haste you apparently missed this part of the report about the Washington State outbreak:

    Salmon stressed that the foreign individuals involved in U.S. measles outbreaks are “not illegal immigrants,” but rather “it’s people who have enough wealth to travel.”

    “There’s been ongoing measles outbreaks in Europe for years and it’s largely because of vaccine refusal,” he said.

  3. Bill Daniels says:


    HOUSTON – Seven mumps cases at a Houston ICE facility have been confirmed by the Houston Health Department Saturday, the department said in a statement Saturday.

    It said all seven are adult detainees who were detained during their infectious period.

    “Since these individuals were isolated inside the facility during the period they were infectious, we do not anticipate these cases posing a threat to the community,” said Dr. David Persse, Houston’s local health authority and EMS medical director.

    The department is working with the facility on infection control methods and will conduct an on-site visit in the coming days, it said.

    Here are your sainted illegal aliens right here in Houston bringing illness and disease to US right to Houston.

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