Texas Investigating Measles Exposures at Kansas Softball Event
July 17, 2014
Texas Department of State Health Services has issued a measles health alert after being notified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that more than 30 Texas residents may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease at a Wichita, Kansas, softball event during the July 4th weekend.
At least three recreational softball teams from Texas traveled to Wichita to participate in the informal tournament held at the South Lakes Sports Complex. DSHS is investigating to get additional details about the event and who may have been exposed. DSHS has not yet identified any Texas measles cases associated with the event.
DSHS urges anyone in Texas who attended the event to call the department (512-776-7676) to report the potential exposure.
Anyone with measles symptoms should call their health care provider. Health care providers should be on alert for potential exposures and patients with measles symptoms.
The incubation period of measles is about two weeks from exposure to onset of rash, but may be as short as one week or as long as three weeks. People are contagious from four days before onset of rash to four days after the appearance of rash. The rash usually begins on the face and spreads to the trunk. Other symptoms include fever (higher than 101 degrees), cough, runny nose and sore eyes.
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to that person who are not immune or vaccinated will also become infected with the measles virus.State health officials urge immunization to protect against and prevent the spread of measles. People should check their immunization status with their healthcare provider.
Last year there were 27 reported measles cases in Texas and none in 2012.
Doctors should consider measles in their diagnosis if they have a patient with a rash and fever. If measles is suspected, they should report the patient to their local health department as soon as possible. People who have measles or are suspected of having measles should seek medical attention and otherwise stay home until four days after the rash appeared. People with measles symptoms should contact the medical provider’s office before arrival to limit spread to other patients.
The health alert is available here.
Texas investiga exposiciones al sarampión durante evento de softbol en Kansas.
Texas Confirms First West Nile Case of the Season
July 3, 2014
The Texas Department of State Health Services today confirmed the state’s first case of West Nile illness of the season. DSHS is urging people to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness.
“The best way to protect yourself is by using insect repellent every time you go outside,” said Tom Sidwa, State Public Health Veterinarian and manager of the Zoonosis Control Branch. “West Nile virus can make people very sick, with symptoms that can last for weeks or months.”
West Nile fever was confirmed in a patient from Travis County. Additional details about the patient are not being released to protect the patient’s identity.
The West Nile season typically runs from June through October. Last year, there were 183 human cases of West Nile illness in Texas, including 14 deaths. The 2012 season was an unprecedented year for West Nile with record numbers of cases and deaths reported in the state. The intensity of West Nile activity in Texas fluctuates from year to year and is difficult to predict. It depends on a variety of factors including the weather, the numbers of birds and mosquitoes that maintain and spread the virus and human behavior. The season can last up until the first hard freeze of the year.
To reduce exposure to West Nile virus:
- Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Among the EPA-approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products.
- Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus breed in stagnant water.
- Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
Symptoms of the milder form of illness, West Nile fever, can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. Symptoms of the more serious form of illness, West Nile neuroinvasive disease, can include those of West Nile fever plus neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Up to 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms.
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People over 50 years old and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying when they become infected with the virus. If people have symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection, they should contact their healthcare provider.
For current case counts, visit: www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/updates.shtm. For disease background and more information, go to: www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/arboviral/westNile/.
New Hantavirus Cases Trigger Precaution Reminder
Two recent cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome were confirmed in residents of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains, bringing the year’s total to three.
Texas had one case in 2013. No cases were reported from 2009 to 2012.
The disease is severe and sometimes fatal, prompting the Texas Department of State Health Services to remind people to protect themselves from the virus that causes HPS. A case confirmed earlier this year was a resident of the Panhandle.
Hantavirus is carried by certain species of rats and mice that shed the virus in their urine, droppings and saliva. The virus can be transmitted to people when nesting materials or dust contaminated by infected rat or mouse urine, droppings and saliva are stirred up, allowing the virus to be breathed in by humans. The illness is rare, but HPS cases are frequently associated with spring cleaning.
DSHS recommends general safety precautions that apply to Hantavirus as well as other infectious diseases:
- Seal openings that may allow rats and mice to enter homes and workplaces.
- Remove brush, woodpiles, trash and other items that may attract rats and mice.
- Tightly close garbage cans, pet food containers and other food sources.
- Before cleaning up nests or droppings found inside, open windows and doors to ventilate the area for at least 30 minutes.
- If any dust will be stirred up, goggles and a HEPA or N-95 mask are recommended.
- Wear protective gloves to handle dead mice and rats or to clean up nesting areas, urine or droppings.
- Do not stir up dust by sweeping or vacuuming. Dampen areas before cleanup with either a 1-to-10 bleach-water mixture or another effective disinfectant, in order to eliminate dust and begin inactivating the virus. After 30 minutes, apply the viricide again and immediately begin the cleaning process.
- Use the same viricide and apply to dead rodents, nests, urine and droppings before cleaning, with the same 30 minute interval and reapplication process.
Early symptoms of hantavirus infection include fatigue, fever and muscle aches. These symptoms may be accompanied by headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Later symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath. If hantavirus is suspected, people should contact their health care provider immediately and inform the practitioner of exposure to rodents, their waste, or their nesting material.
A total of 41 HPS cases have been confirmed in Texas since 1993, the first year it was reported. Fourteen of those cases resulted in death.