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Local residents urged to get vaccinated to prevent measles

• Jul 15, 2019 at 5:00 PM

The first measles case in Ohio this year has been confirmed.

The effected person is a young adult who recently traveled to a state that has confirmed cases of measles. The case, confirmed Friday in Stark County, is Ohio’s first since 2017, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Five years ago, a measles outbreak in Ohio resulted in 382 cases being reported.

As of July 3, 1,109 measles cases have been confirmed in 28 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the greatest number of cases reported in the United States in 25 years.

Cases also have been reported many of Ohio’s neighboring states.

As the number of cases continue to grow, Huron County Public Health (HCPH) is urging local residents to make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Individuals should check their vaccination records. If they have no record of measles immunity, HCPH encourages people to get the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine. To schedule a vaccination appointment, call 419-668-1652 Ext. 241.

In the United States, most of the measles cases have resulted from travel outside of the country.

As individuals travel across state lines, there is a chance of coming into contact with measles in the community, especially when visiting local tourist destinations. Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk.

The MMR vaccine is safe and effective. One dose of MMR vaccine is approximately 93 percent effective at preventing measles; two doses are around 97 percent effective.

The CDC recommends that children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age. Adults born during or after 1957, who do not have evidence of immunity, should get at least one dose of vaccine. Individuals may be immune to measles if they were born before 1957, received the MMR vaccine, or had a past measles infection. Residents that are unsure of their immunity should contact their primary care doctor.

Measles is considered extremely contagious and can spread to others through coughing or sneezing, according to health officials. Up to 90 percent of individuals who come into contact with an infected person who are not immune will also become infected, health officials said.

Symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, and red, watery eyes.

Measles is more than just a rash and fever; it can cause serious health complications, especially in children younger than 5 years old. About 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized, and 1 or 2 out of 1,000 people will die, even with the best care. Pneumonia, or lung infection, is the most common cause of death from the measles in young children. Encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, is another serious complication which can lead to seizures, deafness, and intellectual disability.

“Vaccinations save lives, period. I urge everyone who can, to get vaccinated,” Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton said. “Vaccination is the safest, most effective way to prevent serious vaccine-preventable diseases in children and adults, including measles.”

Health officials recommend the following people should get vaccinated:

• College students

• International travelers

• Those traveling to states with current measles cases or outbreaks

• Adults born during or after 1957, who do not have immunity

• Family members and friends of people at high risk of severe illness and complications, including:

— Infants and children younger than 5 years old

— Adults older than 20 years old

— Pregnant women

— People with compromised immune systems such as from leukemia or HIV infection

To make an appointment for an MMR vaccine, call HCPH at 419-668-1652 Ext. 241 or a primary care doctor.

HCPH offers vaccines through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. No child will be turned away if their family is unable to pay. MMR vaccines are also available for adults that are under or uninsured. For more information visit www.huroncohealth.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Dayton Daily News staff (TNS) contributed to this article.

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