When Chauntal noticed her 9-month old daughter had a runny nose, she didn’t think much of it. But when baby Emma started running a fever and developed a rash, the Bridge City resident began to think it could be measles and headed straight to her pediatrician and then to CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth to have blood drawn.
As measles cases are reported throughout Texas, there has been concern circulating in our community. The experience of Chauntal’s family recently gained significant interest on social media, so we asked her to consent to share her experience with us and with the community. That consent allows us to share more about their experience.
Chauntal and her husband Chaz have two daughters, and they noticed recently that 9 month-old Emma hadn’t been feeling well.
“We noticed that Emma had a runny nose, but the mucus was clear. It being their first year of day care, a runny nose here and there happens. But then she started to run a low-grade fever, but she and her sister have some teeth coming out. Then she developed a rash. And all the dots connected at that point.”
They called their pediatrician and went in for an appointment that day.
“Initially, we thought it could be an allergy.” Chauntal said. “But when the doctor saw the rash, she knew it wasn’t.” The pediatrician tested Emma for strep, which she had previously had, but when that test came back inconclusive, they were referred to CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth for further bloodwork.
When they arrived, the team at St. Elizabeth was prepared and ready.
“They were gowned and ensured we were separate from those in the waiting room. We didn’t even pass the waiting room. They were prepared, very professional, and we were in and out in two minutes.”
Our top priority at CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth is the safety and wellbeing of the patients and visitors, and will take every precaution to ensure it.
“They made sure her mask stayed on, and I had one on, too.” Chauntal recalls. “They were super sweet. I love the hospital.”
The nurses took a blood sample to test for measles and a throat swab before sending Emma straight home. Currently, Chauntal and Chaz are awaiting the results of the tests.
In the meantime, Emma is feeling better.
“Emma is actually feeling great.” Chauntal says. “She’s sleeping, recovering, getting more strength. She’s been playing. And her rash looks less red. She’s already improved a lot in one day.”
As they await to plan next steps, their family reflects on their experience so far.
“There’s two ways to look at it.” She says. “Our pediatrician and those at St. Elizabeth have been absolutely phenomenal. Nothing short of incredible and thorough. But the social media side has been stressful. I don’t want panic to happen, so I felt I should say something. There were a lot of stories out there, such as us not vaccinating. What people just don’t know is that our babies aren’t old enough to vaccinate.”
Chauntal and Chaz’s children, who are 9 months old, are completely up to date on their shots. In fact, a child cannot be vaccinated for the measles until 12 – 15 months, and then it needs to be followed up with a booster shot at 4 – 6 years old.
We spoke with George Davis, M.D. who serves as the CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth Emergency Room Site Director, about what parents, families and our community should know about measles and infectious diseases.
First and foremost, CHRISTUS Southeast Texas is prepared to handle infectious diseases, like measles. As with all hospitals, our nurses and doctors are exposed to a range of infectious diseases daily while providing care for our community, and they take the proper precautions to ensure a safe and healthy environment at our hospitals and facilities, for themselves, patients and visitors alike.
“We are highly prepared,” says Dr. Davis. “We have a very active infection control team that comes together for a potential patient to treat or isolate.”
This team follows strict procedures to ensure safety for the patient and all those around.
“[For] something like flu, we can mask the patient. For something more highly infectious, we would isolate that patient to different degrees, depending on how serious the threat could be. We have those protocols in place to do that for anyone who comes to us.”
Of all the diseases that come in, measles has been incredibly rare.
The disease is diagnosed clinically, he goes on to explain. “There’s a distinctive rash pattern, a cough, a high fever.”
Dr. Davis shares that several groups are most at risk for contracting the measles, including those with compromised immune systems and very young children.
And when it comes to when a parent should take their childrento see a doctor if they suspect they may be sick, Dr. Davis encourages parents to look out for abnormal behavior.
“Warning signs includes if the child is not acting properly, if there’s a rash, persistent coughing, if you can’t control a fever or keep fluids down.”
When asked how measles is treated, Dr. Davis answers that there is only supportive care, such as medicine to control fever. Because when it comes to fighting measles, defense is the best offense.
“Vaccines [are] the only thing that can prevent measles. There’s no alternative treatments for measles that will help prevent this.” As Dr. Davis says, when children are old enough at 12 – 15 months, “I strongly recommend that parents vaccinate their children for measles.”
CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System’s nurses and physicians are on standby and ready to take care of whatever step is next for their family.
When the topic of CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Associates came up, Chauntal has a heartfelt message for the nurses and Associates, who had also recently cared for her daughters when they contracted the respiratory virus, RSV.
“I want to thank them for being so compassionate and professional. They’ve been so loving and thorough for my daughters, and if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know if they’d be here. I just want to say thank you.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with Chauntal’s family, and should they need us, we look forward to an opportunity to serve them again. We appreciate the chance to share their story with our community, and encourage privacy for their family during this time.