Houston Measles Case Confirmed

Houston health officials confirm a case of measles in the region for the first time in years. An eleven-month-old baby was infected during a trip to Florida. As Laurie Johnson reports — the case is rare, but not alarming.

Measles infections are extremely rare in the Houston area, with usually no more than one case every few years.
City of Houston Department of Health and Human Services Spokeswoman Kathy Barton says they were notifed of this infection on March 31st and traced it back to a trip the child and family took to Florida, where measles have been confirmed.

"The last case we saw was two or three years ago and it was imported, it was an adoptee from China who came in with it. And since that time it had been many years since we had seen a case, although I think there had been a few in the state. It is a highly infectious disease and it can be very serious, so that's why we are very concerned when we see a case, we want to make sure we have good immunization coverage in our community."

Barton says everyone in the child's family is immune. The baby was not immunized because measles vaccines aren't administered until after a child's first birthday. Barton says the case should not cause alarm about a widespread outbreak.

"If this were 15 years ago, we would be all over it and it would be all over the news. This would represent a major risk to our community because 15 years ago we had pretty poor immunization coverage. But given that we have pretty good immunization coverage right now, we're continuing to work hard on it, but we don't necessarily expect to see any additional cases."

Fifteen years ago, the immunization rate in young children was 11 percent. Today, about 86 percent of children in Houston are immunized.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...