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Officials Say Austin Is No Longer At Risk Of A Measles Outbreak After Case Last Month

Gabriel C. Pérez

Austin public health officials say there's no longer any risk of a measles outbreak associated with a Travis County case reported in December.

Late last month, Travis County recorded its first measles case in two decades. It stemmed from an individual who had traveled abroad. Austin Public Health says the incubation period, which lasts from 10 to 14 days, is now over and there have been no new cases.

The infected individual was at a handful of locations in the Austin area during the incubation period. Austin Public Health epidemiologists working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials were monitoring for additional cases through Jan. 7, specifically potential cases among those who had contact with the infected individual.

They found no additional cases, but APH says it will continue to monitor for new cases.

Dr. Mark Escott, interim head of Austin Public Health, said the ordeal highlights the importance of getting vaccinations, specifically the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

"Given how contagious this virus is, we are very thankful that we have not seen a measles outbreak in Travis County," Escott said. "This measles case in Austin serves as a critical reminder about the importance of vaccines."

Officials were worried about the prospect of an outbreak in Austin, given how many schools in the area have large concentrations of students with waivers for the state's required vaccinations for public school students. In a study last year, Travis County was on a list of 25 counties at high risk for a measles outbreak because of that unvaccinated population, as well as high rates of international travel through Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

The MMR vaccine is administered to children in two doses – once between 12 and 15 months of age and again between the ages of 4 and 6. Measles is a highly contagious airborne virus with symptoms that include sore eyes, fever, coughing and a rash that typically starts on a patient's face and spreads quickly. 

Research from the World Health Organization and the CDC suggests adults who have received a second dosage of the MMR vaccine have at least a 97% chance of being protected against the measles virus. 

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Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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