EL PASO, Texas - The number of confirmed measles cases in El Paso grew to three on Monday, marking what local health officials said was the first resurgence of the highly-contagious respiratory disease in over a quarter-century.
The latest victim was a boy toddler, the city health department said. He joined a woman in her late 40's and another boy toddler who were diagnosed last week amid a nationwide outbreak that finally reached the Borderland.
Despite the additional case confirmed Monday, officials said they don't expect to see many more individuals diagnosed with measles.
"Because El Paso's immunization rates are so high, we don't expect to see a huge number of cases emerge," said Robert Resendes, the city of El Paso's public health director.
After the first two cases were reported last week, health officials expressed concern that personnel at Fort Bliss might have been exposed. But Resendes said of Monday's diagnosis that "it is not believed this second toddler exposed the general public to the disease."
Measles is caused by a virus that can easily spread through coughing and sneezing — but experts note it is also preventable by getting vaccinated.
"We know that the effectiveness of the vaccine, especially after the recommended two doses, is about 97 percent," Resendes said.
The disease usually begins with fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Those symptoms are then followed by a rash that spreads from the head down to the hands and feet.
Over 1,000 measles cases have been diagnosed so far across the nation, in what the Associated Press reported is the worst U.S. measles outbreak in 27 years.