Local and state health officials are reminding area residents about the importance of children and adults being up-to-date on all recommended vaccinations, with vaccine-preventable measles confirmed in 22 states.
While Ohio currently has no confirmed measles cases, neighboring states Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan do, according to a Ohio Department of Health release.
“We have not seen any measles cases in the state yet, but Ohio is setting up plans in case it spreads here, especially considering the upcoming busy summer travel season,” Logan County Health Commissioner Dr. Boyd Hoddinott said Wednesday.
“Fortuntately, the MMR vaccine provides good protection against this disease. For those who are becoming infected with measles, it is usually because of a lack of the vaccine.”
One dose of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is approximately 93 percent effective at preventing measles. Two doses are approximately 97 percent effective.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults who were born in 1957 and later receive one to two doses of the MMR vaccine. Children are recommended to receive their first dose of the MMR vaccine at age 12 to 15 months, and another dose between the ages of 4 and 6.
Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against specific diseases. Some serious and potentially life-threatening diseases that vaccines can help prevent include but are not limited to measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, chickenpox, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and flu.
“Vaccination is the safest, most effective way to prevent serious vaccine-preventable diseases in children and adults, including measles,” Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said in a release. “I urge all Ohioans to talk with your healthcare provider to make sure that you and your children have received all recommended vaccines. If you do not have a healthcare provider, contact your local health department which may offer immunization clinics.”
While Ohio does not have any confirmed measles cases, more than 700 cases have been reported in 22 states – the most cases reported in the U.S. since 1994. Measles is still common in many parts of world, and large outbreaks are currently occurring in Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines.
Travelers with measles bring the disease into U.S. where it can spread in communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.
Dr. Hoddinott said measles is extremely contagious and can spread to others through coughing and sneezing.
If one person has measles, up to 90 percent of those close to that person and who are not immune will also become infected, the Ohio Department of Health reports.
The measles virus can live for up to two hours in air where an infected person coughed or sneezed.
If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch an infected surface and then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can also become infected. People infected with measles can spread it to others from four days before, through four days after, a rash appears.
Measles symptoms include a rash, high fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, and red, watery eyes. The rash usually lasts 5 to 6 days and begins at the hairline, moves to the face and upper neck, and proceeds down the body. Diarrhea and ear infections are common complications of measles.
More severe complications may also occur. As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or with intellectual disability.
For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.
During pregnancy, measles increases the risk of premature labor, miscarriage, and low-birth weight infants. Measles can be especially severe in persons with compromised immune systems.
Complications from measles are more common among children younger than 5 years old and adults older than 20 years old.
The health department, 310 S. Main St., Bellefontaine, administers MMR vaccines from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursdays and from 2 to 6 p.m. the first Thursday of the month. Call the health department at 651-6186.