Eagle Mountain International Church Tied to Measles Outbreak in Texas

21 cases of measles have been traced back to Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas in Tarrant County. Someone visiting the church was infected with measles in Indonesia and spread it to others. The church is cooperating with the investigation. Infected individuals include members of the congregation, staff and children from the day care center, including a baby. The infected individuals had previously refused to be vaccinated.

Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) is a vaccine that prevents measles and is given to children who are 12 months old. It is administered a second time to children between the ages of 4 and 6 years old. Members of the church, which is a division of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, are in favor of faith-healing, which involves praying rather than seeking the medical attention of a healthcare provider. Many people within this community chose not to be vaccinated and to not have their families vaccinated.

Measles is characterized by a red rash that appears on the face and spreads across the body. Symptoms of measles appear between eight days to two weeks after a person is infected. They include sore throat, cough, runny nose and fever. 159 people so far have been infected with measles in the United States in 2013.

Dr. Jane Seward, deputy director of the viral diseases division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said, “There’s likely a lot more susceptible people…In this community, these cases so far are all in people who refused vaccination for themselves and their children.” Nine children and seven adults are infected with measles in Tarrant County, Texas and five cases were found in Denton County, Texas. On August 16, health officials in Texas issued a warning regarding the outbreak of measles.

Measles was once responsible for approximately 500 deaths each year and 48,000 hospitalizations in the United States. This changed once the vaccine was produced in 1663. The vaccine was first developed by Maurice Hilleman, and therefore, it is estimated that his work prevents 1 million deaths on an annual basis. Today, 200,000 people die of measles each year around the world, and pregnant women are at risk of complications if they are infected with measles. The CDC estimates that between one and two children out of 1,000 die of measles.

There are 21 different strains of measles, also known as rubeola, and the illness is extremely contagious. It infects the respiratory system, grows in the back of the body’s lungs and throat and spreads when an infected individual coughs and sneezes in surrounding air and on surrounding surfaces. It is commonly spread in the United States when someone visits from a foreign country or an American citizen is infected while in a foreign country and spreads it when he or she returns home. The virus that causes measles can stay alive for up to two hours outside of a host.

Terri Pearsons, Copeland’s daughter and senior pastor at Eagle Mountain International Church, is asking church members to get the vaccination, and the church has put on clinics for vaccination.

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