First measles case of 2019 confirmed in Tarrant County

Tarrant County officials confirmed their first measles case of 2019 on Thursday.

Tarrant County Public Health declined to give any identifying information about the patient, only saying the case was not related to any other in North Texas. Officials later said the person had recently traveled out of the country to an area experiencing a spike in measles.

Two cases of measles have been diagnosed in the past two weeks in Collin County. Denton County had a measles case diagnosed earlier this year. The Tarrant County case is the fourth of 2019 in North Texas and the fourteenth statewide.

Symptoms of measles include rash, fever of 101°F or higher, cough, runny nose, or eye redness. People are contagious from four days before a rash appears to four days after the appearance of a rash. Measles is highly contagious and spread via respiratory droplets through the air.

The county’s chief epidemiologist wants people to know it is not a community-wide outbreak. He says the encouraging news is most people in Tarrant County are vaccinated, which helps limit exposure.

Chief Epidemiologist Russell Jones says the person started showing symptoms of the highly contagious virus last week. Tests confirmed it was the measles.

“The person, we believe, was exposed during an international trip, in particular, went to a county where there is an increase in measles cases was exposed there,” the epidemiologist explained.

Jones says when traveling outside of the United States, it’s recommended folks have two measles, mumps and rubella vaccines.

Jones says roughly 90 percent of Tarrant County residents are vaccinated. That's slightly below the national average.

“Depending on which age group you’re looking. at some are higher. Some are lower,” Jones said.

On Monday, Collin County health officials confirmed their second case of measles. In that case, the infected person spent a limited amount of time at a Kroger off Preston Road in Prosper while they were contagious last Friday.

In Tarrant County, Jones says the possible public exposure appears to be very limited.

“At this point, this is one case,” Jones said. “It is not a community-wide outbreak.”

“I think everybody should be vaccinated, especially the children because they go to school,” said Fort Worth resident Felipa Moreno. “And if they’re not vaccinated if they get it, they spread it and it goes from there and just gets worse.”

Jones says the health department is monitoring folks who are known to have been in contact with the infected person and are making sure they’re healthy.