Health officials prepare for biggest outbreak of measles in 18 y - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Health officials prepare for biggest outbreak of measles in 18 years

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Physicians say it's never too late to get vaccinated (Source: KLTV Staff) Physicians say it's never too late to get vaccinated (Source: KLTV Staff)
Dr. Ryan Menard says he's never seen a measles case because the disease has been under control for so many years (Source: KLTV Staff) Dr. Ryan Menard says he's never seen a measles case because the disease has been under control for so many years (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning physicians and parents to watch out for a potential deadly virus. So far this year, the measles has infected 129 people in the United States; that's the highest level since 1996.  Some East Texas doctors say they've never seen a measles case because the disease has been under control for so many years.

"It's of course pretty rare to see a case. I personally have never seen a case," said UT Health Northeast Dr. Ryan Menard. "One of my partners has been in practice for 20 years; he's seen one case."

The average adult can go seven to 14 days without showing any symptoms of the measles, but they can still be contagious. Health officials say the symptoms begin like the common cold: runny nose, fever and sore throat. Though some doctors have never treated this disease before they say there's a way to detect if you have the measles.

"Its white spots on the mouth," Dr. Menard said. "It's a little white spot on a red base. We don't know anything else that causes that in the particular area of the mouth."

Another sign of measles is a rash of tiny red spots. Once someone get this contagious disease, physicians fear other things happening.

"In some cases, measles can cause deafness, neurological impairment, and death is quite possible with the measles," said NET Health PHEP director Russell Hopkins. "It's still a dangerous disease."

Health officials says if you're 18 or older and you can't remember the last time you got a measles vaccination, chances are you're due for a booster shot for protection.

"The problem that we're experiencing now is that people who haven't had a vaccine and they are contagious to somebody else because we haven't stayed on top of the vaccine compliance," Hopkins said.

Dr. Menard says some people have a higher risk of getting measles.

"People with HIV/AIDS may be more susceptible, pregnant women are more susceptible and of course the very young and very old," Menard said. "This disease can be transmitted from adults to children."

Because so many people can be affected by the current measles outbreak, especially if they plan to travel overseas, physicians say it's never too late to get vaccinated.

The Northeast Texas Public Health District will host immunizations clinics at three Tyler Independent School District middle school campuses starting Tuesday, April 29. There will be no charge for students covered by Medicaid and CHIP. Parents must present their cards at the time of service to get free vaccinations. Parents with other health insurance providers must verify insurance coverage with NET Health before the clinic. For those without health insurance, a fee a $10 will be collected.

Each clinic is open to all students who attend school at TISD.

Here's a list of immunizations dates and locations:

April 29
Boulter Middle School
4 p.m. - 6 p.m.

May 6
Stewart Middle School
4 p.m. - 6 p.m

May 8
Hogg Middle School
4 p.m. - 6 p.m.

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