KILLEEN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - The Bell County Public Health District is investigating a possible case of the measles.
The case involves a child in western Bell County who was either not vaccinated or had not completed the vaccine series.
The health district said they are still waiting for test results to confirm that it is, in fact, a case of the measles virus, but doctors in Bell County are keeping a close eye on any potential spread.
“We heard that there's a case in our area. We have to wait and see is it only one case or is it an outbreak?” said Dr. Omar Homsi, a pediatrician at the Killeen Pediatric Care Clinic.
The district said the case involves a child in the western part of the county that was either not vaccinated or had not completed the vaccine series.
West Bell County is only about 70 miles away from Austin, which has been named an anti-vaccine hotspot by medicine publisher and advocacy organization, the public library of science.
“So it's really important, especially for the children, and if we maintain a vaccination rate above 95 percent then it really protects maybe somebody that's not able to get the vaccines, somebody that might be highly immunocompromised,” said Dr. Karen Brust, an infectious disease physician at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center- Temple.
Measles can start out much like the flu. Fever, cough, congestion are all common symptoms. It's not until later that the well-known measles rash appears.
“So this is mostly a virus that's transmitted via infected respiratory particles through the air and, so, it's important for immunocompromised people to avoid sick and ill people and specifically we're talking children,” Brust said.
“The problem with measles is you are going to spread the virus before you start with the symptoms, so a few days before you start with a rash, you are going to be infectious,” said Homsi.
The virus can be especially dangerous for young children and infants.
“You can have a lot of complications. You can be dead, but in the United States the death rate is very low, but, yes, you can have complications, you can have pneumonia, you can have difficulty breathing, etc.” Homsi said.
The health district said some parents have been panicking about their child's rash since the announcement. That's something Dr. Brust said could've been prevented when outbreaks were reported in the northwest part of the country last year.
“We should've panicked then and gotten our MMR vaccines up to date, but sometimes it takes a case locally to make that happen,” said Brust.
Both Dr. Brust and Dr. Homsi said there has not been a credible link between autism and the MMR vaccine.
Children can be vaccinated once they are 12 months old.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of the virus should call their physician.