Fort Worth, TX, United States (4E) – Twenty-one members of a Texas megachurch that is against vaccination were found infected with measles as of Monday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.
The outbreak was caused by a member who contracted the disease abroad and infected other members who are not vaccinated because they follow the Eagle Mountain International Church’s (EMIC) belief that vaccination causes autism.
The CDC said nine children and six adults age 4 months to 44 years from Tarrant County were among those infected with the contagious disease spread by coughing and sneezing. The other infected people are from Denton County.
The outbreak prompted the church to allow vaccination of members and had held several vaccination clinics already, EMIC senior pastor Terri Pearsons said.
Dr. Jane Seward, the deputy director for the viral diseases division at CDC, said many more unvaccinated members are likely exposed.
The measles outbreak among EMIC members raised the total number of cases in the U.S. this year to 159. Outbreaks are usually caused by a person who got infected abroad as measles vaccination has been institutionalized since 1963, when a vaccine to the disease was introduced.
Measles is a respiratory disease with symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and red rash in the body. The symptoms appear from eight days to two weeks after infection.