Texas cities vulnerable to measles outbreaks, study finds

Texas cities are increasingly likely to have large measles outbreaks due to rising numbers of unvaccinated children in private and public schools, according to a study published Aug. 21 in JAMA Network Open and reported in Science Daily.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health entered state vaccination data from the 2010 U.S. Census into a computer simulation tool that models how infections might spread, called the Framework for Reconstructing Epidemiological Dynamics tool. The Texas Pediatric Society requested that researchers use FRED to demonstrate outbreak risks due to low state vaccination rates.

At current vaccination rates, the FRED tool estimates over 400 cases of measles could occur in Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth. A 5 percent decrease in current vaccination rates could lead to outbreaks of 500 to 1,000 cases in Austin, Dallas Fort-Worth and Houston. 

Texas parents have increasingly sought vaccine exemptions for their children for personal or religious reasons in recent years. The number of exemptions rose from 2,300 in 2003 to 64,000 in 2016.

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