Travis County rubella patient had MMR vaccine, doctors office confirms

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Travis County resident recently diagnosed with the first confirmed case of rubella since 1999 was fully vaccinated against the virus, the patient’s doctor’s office confirmed.

Dr. Sharon Hausman-Cohen, a board-certified family medicine practitioner, said her associate diagnosed the patient after she developed symptoms following a trip to Thailand.

This patient, who the doctor said was a local teacher, had a mild infection. She said she experienced viral symptoms as well as rashing, fatigue and a runny nose.

Austin Public Health said they sent out a notice to the people which may have been exposed, including everyone in close contact at the school where the teacher works.

Unvaccinated children have been informed that they must stay out of class for 21 consecutive calendar days, and then must receive doctor approval before returning to class, per Texas state law.

It is still unclear at this time which school was affected.

READ: Austin Public Health confirms first case of rubella since 1999

Dr. Hausman-Cohen explained how the potency of a vaccination and the immunity of a patient can wane over time.

“No exposure to a disease means people lose their immunity because there is no boost,” Dr. Hausman-Cohen explained. “It’s not always because people aren’t vaccinated. It’s because the immunity can wane.”

Dr. Hausman-Cohen said in 26 years of practicing medicine, she has never seen a case of rubella, commonly called “German measles.” She said regular exposure to viruses can actually boost a vaccinated person’s ability to fight the infection.

Nevertheless, Hausman-Cohen says, patients should be vaccinated — and you should also see your doctor before international travel to see if you need any booster shots.

Rubella is a virus that’s similar to measles. Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority and medical director for Austin Public Health, said sometimes it’s called “three-day measles” because a rash that can be caused by rubella lasts about three days.

Other symptoms are similar to measles’ symptoms — low-grade fever, headache and cough. With rubella, you can also suffer from swollen lymph nodes.

The agency says it’s not related to the December case of measles confirmed in Travis County. Coincidentally, the last case of measles in the county before then was in 1999.

Travel Warnings

Right now, there are measles outbreaks in several countries including Israel, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a rubella outbreak in Japan two weeks ago. They say pregnant women should avoid travelling there inf they haven’t received their MMR vaccine.

Keep in mind, Japan is hosting the 2020 summer Olympic games. An estimated 600,000 overseas visitors are expected to attend.

Dr. Hausman-Cohen suggests seeing your doctor before traveling internationally. They can quickly evaluate your immune system to see if you need any booster shots.

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