TODAY   |  August 27, 2013

Megachurch at epicenter of measles resurgence

Measles is making a resurgence in the U.S.; some 159 cases have been documented so far this year, with the biggest outbreak being tied to a Texas megachurch. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>> now to the resurgence of the measles here in the united states . at least 159 cases have been documented this year with the biggest outbreak tied to a mega church in texas. janet has details on this. good morning to you.

>>> hey, matt, this outbreak is alarming health officials because generally we don't see cases of measles anymore. this concentration is tied to this church . it is led by a celebrity minister and his pastor daughter who have been critical of vaccines in the past.

>> reporter: this sprawling texas mega church near fort worth is the epicenter of the outbreaks. at least 16 cases originated here. 7 adults, 9 children. the youngest, 4 months old. and many home skoochooled. officials say 11 had no vaccines with no medical records of vaccines for the others. dr. karen smith works at the church and spotted the disease most think of as wiped out.

>> this little guy presented to the clinic with textbook symptoms one day and i didn't know enough to know that meeasles should be gone.

>> the outbreak is blamed on a church visitor that travelled overseas and then interacted with other church members.

>> so there's a possibility that any of you or your children have been exposed.

>> she is the church pastor and daughter of kenneth copeland . he has been critical of vaccines in the past suggesting a link to autism.

>> you don't take the word of the guy trying to give a shot about what's good and what isn't.

>> reporter: but the church tells nbc news it is urging members to get vaccinated.

>> we can get vaccinated in faith. the main thing is stay in faith.

>> reporter: the cdc reports an alarming spike in the number of cases. 159 so far this year. almost triple the 2012 total of 55.

>> measles is perhaps the most infectious of all of the infectious diseases . as long as there's measles anywhere in the world and there's people traveling back and forth, we are at risk.

>> reporter: best known for the red rash that can blanket those infected, the respiratory infection can be prevented.

>> the best way to protect your children from complications including death is get them vaccinated.

>> reporter: the church offered on site vaccinations four times in recent weeks. 300 church members have received them.

>> new york city also battled measles this year. 58 cases. mostly in close knit orthodox jewish communities and are tied to visitors from europe.

>>> thanks janet, appreciate it.