Fort Worth, Texas,
11:36 AM

12 Facts About Measles You Need To Know

A pediatrician explains this 'incredibly contagious disease'

Denton County Public Health confirmed a measles case, making it the first case for 2019 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This was the seventh case confirmed in Texas this year. Five have been confirmed in southern Texas, including four under the age of 2. 

DCPH says no further information will be released to protect private patient confidentiality.

“Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent measles,” stated Dr. Matt Richardson, Director of Public Health in Denton. “Unfortunately, people think that measles is just a rash and fever but measles can cause serious health concerns, especially in young children, and is highly contagious. Vaccination is incredibly effective at protecting those we love from this infection."

This information comes only days after a national study published in the Public Library of Science, names Fort Worth as a hot spot for the anti-vaccine movement. Texas is one of 18 states that allows kids to opt out of vaccines as a philosophical exemption.

In the year 2000, the CDC declared that measles had been eliminated in North America and we thought we were well on our way to relegating measles to the trash heap of history. Now, thanks to declining vaccination rates, measles is making a comeback. Along with the cases in Texas, 55 people in Washington and neighboring Oregon have gotten sick with the virus.

So, since we are starting to see measles again, we thought it would be important for people to know a few things about this incredibly contagious disease from Jason Terk, M.D., a Cook Children's pediatrician in Keller and a nationally known advocate for vaccines:

  1. Measles starts out looking like a bad cold with runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, and high fever.
  2. Two or three days after the initial symptoms begin, tiny white spots may appear in the mouth that are only seen with measles called Koplik spots.
  3. Three to five days after the initial symptoms begin, a rash will appear as flat red spots on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, torso, arms, legs and then feet. Small raised bumps may appear on top of the flat red spots.
  4. The spots may become so numerous that they combine to create an overall red appearance to the entire body.
  5. Fevers as high as 104° F will be present when the rash appears.
  6. Measles is the most contagious infectious disease known and is spread by coughing and sneezing. The virus particles are suspended in the air for up to two hours where an infected person has coughed or sneezed.
  7. If you are exposed to the measles and have not been vaccinated, you have a 90% chance of getting the measles.
  8. A person with measles is contagious from 4 days before through 4 days after the rash appears.
  9. One out of every 4 people with measles will be hospitalized.
  10. One out of every 1000 people with the measles will develop swelling of the brain which can lead to brain damage and death.
  11. One out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia which is the most common cause of death from measles in children.
  12. For every 1000 children who get measles, one to two will die from it.

So, if you don’t want any of the above, get yourself and your child vaccinated! Tarrant County has been identified as a location where a measles outbreak is considered likely. Only we can change that!

Learn more on this topic:

Get to know Jason Terk, M.D.

Dr. Terk is a Cook Children's pediatrician at Keller Parkway. Dr. Terk earned his medical degree from University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine (Mayo Clinic) in Rochester, Minnesota. His interests include public policy advocacy for children's health issues, focusing primarily on vaccines. Dr. Terk is board-certified in pediatrics. New and exisiting Cook Children's Keller pediatrician office patients can make an appointment by calling 817-968-1200 or through the button below to access Cook Children's Patient Portal. 

Comments 1 - 4 (4)
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Cook Children's
Thank you for your question Kim. The information found in this article is based on research from the CDC and other health organizations:

Could you please post your reference links for your statistics on points 6-12 ? Thank you!
Cook Children's
Hello Kelly. Thank you for the question. According to the CDC, the number is reduced drastically for children who receive two doses of the MMR vaccine - only 3 out of 100 if exposed to the virus. However, the CDC says those people will have a "milder illness, and are less likely to spread the disease to other people." Learn more here:
90% chance of unvaccinated person to catch it if exposed! Wow. What are the chances of a vaccinated individual contracting the disease after being exposed?