A Northeast Tarrant County resident tested positive for measles after traveling to Kansas, and public health officials are urging physicians to be on the lookout for more cases.The resident spent the July Fourth weekend in the Wichita area playing in a softball tournament.“I do expect other cases,” said Russell Jones, chief epidemiologist at Tarrant County Public Health. “We know some of the people the person came in contact with were not immune.”On July 17, Texas health officials said more than 30 people from Texas who went to the tournament may have been exposed to the measles virus. Three recreational softball teams from Texas played in Wichita that weekend. The Wichita Eaglereported Tuesday that 11 measles cases had been confirmed in Sedgwick County, where Wichita is located, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.Dallas County Health and Human Services also said Wednesday that it was conducting contact investigations in Dallas County in search of possible exposures from the Northeast Tarrant County case.Here’s what residents need to know: How concerned should Tarrant County residents be about this outbreak?“At this point, we've already made the contact with this person and we have been following up and monitoring those people this person has been in contact with,” Jones said. “The good news is Tarrant County has a high immunization rate. If people have the two MMR vaccines [measles, mumps and rubella] or you were born before 1957, you are considered immune. But someone who has not been vaccinated and was born after 1957 is vulnerable.” What are symptoms?Measles symptoms include a reddish rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes. Symptoms usually last one to two weeks. The rash typically begins on the face and head and then travels down and out to the hands and feet, then fades in the same order, from head to feet. Jones said the diseasei often starts with a sore throat and then the patient gets a fever before developing the rash. How long is the incubation period?Up to 21 days. How many cases do we typically see in Tarrant County?Zero. Have we had recent local outbreaks?Yes. Last August, there were 16 measles cases in Tarrant County and five in Denton County. How many measles cases have there been this year across the United States?There have been 580 cases of measles nationwide in 20 states, including Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Ohio, an outbreak of 374 cases was the largest in the U.S. in the last decade, but it appears to be ending, according to The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. Where can I get immunized?If you have insurance, you should go to your primary care doctor. What if I don’t have insurance?Vaccinations are available at Tarrant County Public Health Clinics, including the Arlington Public Health Center, 536 W. Randol Mill Road in Arlington; the Bagsby-Williams Public Health Center, 3212 Miller Ave. in Fort Worth; La Gran Plaza Mall Public Health Center, 4200 South Freeway in Fort Worth; Northwest Public Health Center, 3800 Adam Grubb Road in Lake Worth; Southwest Public Health Center, 6551 Granbury Road in Fort Worth; and the Watauga Public Health Center, 6601 Watauga Road. Do children need to have their vaccinations up to date before school starts? Yes. Back-to-school immunization programs will be held countywide in August. For information, call 817-238-4448.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698 Twitter: @fwhanna