No new measles cases detected in Austin since first diagnosis in decades, local officials say

More than two weeks since Austin Public Health confirmed the city’s first case of measles since 1999, officials say there is no longer a risk of a measles outbreak associated with that case. (Courtesy Flickr)
More than two weeks since Austin Public Health confirmed the city’s first case of measles since 1999, officials say there is no longer a risk of a measles outbreak associated with that case. (Courtesy Flickr)

More than two weeks since Austin Public Health confirmed the city’s first case of measles since 1999, officials say there is no longer a risk of a measles outbreak associated with that case. (Courtesy Flickr)

More than two weeks since Austin Public Health confirmed the city’s first case of measles since 1999, officials say there is no longer a risk of a measles outbreak associated with that case.

The incubation period for measles typically lasts up to two weeks, but Austin Public Health waited until Jan. 7 to close the investigation in case of delayed doctor visits, according to a Jan. 8 release from the city health department.

The first measles case in Austin in two decades was reported on Dec. 21. On Dec. 22, Austin Public Health posted a list of locations that person had visited, including businesses in Northwest Austin and the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, where unvaccinated residents in contact with the infected individual were possibly at risk of contracting measles.

The measles virus is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Austin Public Health news release. Symptoms of measles include cough, rash, fever and sore eyes.

Public health officials urge individuals and families to get vaccinated for measles and other preventable diseases. The public health department recommends children receive the first dose of the measles vaccine between 12 and 15 months old and a second dose between 4 and 6 years old.


“Given how contagious this virus is, we are very thankful that we have not seen a measles outbreak in Travis County,” Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority and medical director for Austin Public Health, said in the news release. “This measles case in Austin serves as a critical reminder about the importance of vaccines.”

According to recent data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, the conscientious exemptions to immunizations rate among Williamson County students in kindergarten through 12th grade in 2017-18 was higher than the statewide rate and the highest rate it's been in the past eight years.

Overall, 21 cases of measles were reported across Texas in 2019, according to the DSHS. In 2017, one person was diagnosed with measles in the state.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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