Texas measles outbreak tied to anti-vaccine megachurch

Posted By KATE STANTON, UPI.com  |  Aug. 26, 2013 at 10:18 PM
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Texas remains under a statewide measles alert after more than 20 residents came down with the disease in recent weeks.

All cases can be linked to Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas, whose senior pastor -- Kenneth Copeland's daughter Terri Pearsons -- previously expressed concerns about a supposed link between measles vaccinations and autism.

Tarrant County Public Health spokesman Al Roy said that officials had traced the outbreak to a church visitor who traveled abroad and returned with a case of the measles.

Of the 16 measles cases in Tarrant County, 11 weren't vaccinated against the disease while others could have been vaccinated but didn't have the documentation to prove it.

“In this community, these cases so far are all in people who refused vaccination for themselves and their children,” the CDC's Dr. Jane Seward told NBC News.

In a statement that didn't directly address the disease, Kenneth Copeland Ministries advised followers to "first seek the wisdom of God, His Word, and appropriate medical attention from a professional that you know and trust. Apply wisdom and discernment in carrying out their recommendations for treatment."

Pastor Pearsons did bring up the health crisis in a sermon.

There has been a ... confirmed case of the measles from the Tarrant County Public Health Department. And that is a really big deal in that America, the United States has been essentially measles free for I think it's 10 years. And so when measles pops up anywhere else in the United States, the health department -- well, you know, it excites them. You know what I mean I don't mean. I don't mean they're happy about it, but they get very excited and respond to it because it doesn't take much for things like that to spread.

Pearsons also said that the church would begin hosting free vaccination clinics.

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