LA PORTE, Texas — Measles is back in Texas and health officials in Harris County are sounding the alarm.
"This is a resurgence," said Dr. Umair Shaw, Executive Director of Harris County Public Health. "This is a renewed increase in measles activities in our community. And that's what I'm most concerned about."
And so far the resurgence has a bulls-eye on the Houston area.
Last year, Texas had 9 cases all year. Six weeks into 2019, there are seven confirmed cases of measles in Texas. Five are in Houston-area counties. A possible sixth may be in La Porte ISD.
"We saw this train coming and you're watching it come closer and closer and all you want to do is stop and it's the easiest thing in the world to stop," said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at Baylor College of Medicine.
Health officials and experts are pleading with parents to vaccinate their kids and want to urge state lawmakers to pass tougher immunization laws.
"In the year 2000, the anti-vaccine lobby pressured lawmakers to relax our immunization laws and created loopholes for parents who don't want to vaccinate their children," said Allison Winnike, CEO of the Immunization Partnership.
Last year, 57,000 school children were opted out of vaccinations by their parents. That's a 2,300 percent increase. Those types of numbers are putting all children at risk.
"There's no evidence that points to dangers around vaccines," said Dr. Bob Sanborn, President of Children at Risk. "The only danger is when we do not immunize our children."
Doctors are asking parents to monitor their children for cold symptoms, red eye, fever or strange rashes.
They're also asking parents to call their doctors before bringing in their child since measles is so highly contagious.
School districts like HISD want children who have fever to stay home for at least 24 hours until they're fever free without medication. Those are small steps that could prevent more measles cases from popping up in our area.
"Unfortunately we're getting this perfect storm of forces," said Hotez. "An increase in measles cases happening at the time of the year where in the pre-vaccine era it was pretty transmissible. So yes, I'm very concerned."
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