Saturday, July 13, 2019
By David Skolnick
With the first confirmed case of measles in the state since 2017, a Mahoning County health official says vaccinations are the key to containing the highly contagious disease.
The Ohio Department of Health said Friday the first case in the state is an unidentified young adult from Stark County who recently traveled to a state with confirmed measles cases.
Between Jan. 1 and July 3, 1,109 confirmed cases of measles have been reported in 28 states – including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky, which border Ohio – with several having outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the United States since 1992 and since measles was declared “eliminated” in 2000, according to the CDC.
Ohio’s last measles outbreak was in 2014 with 382 confirmed cases. Since then, there was one confirmed case in 2015 and one in 2017.
“Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Erica Horner, director of the Mahoning County Department of Health’s nursing and community health division. “A vaccine is the best way to stop the spread of the disease.”
Measles symptoms include a rash, high fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite and red, watery eyes. The rash usually lasts five to six 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.
“It’s typically spread through mucus from the nose and throat of an infected person,” Horner said. “If someone is contagious, it can live for up to two hours in the air where that person coughed or sneezed. It’s very contagious.”
Children should get two vaccines by the time they go to kindergarten, she said.
Those who should also talk to their doctors about getting vaccinated are those who work in the health-care industry, those traveling abroad and students at colleges and universities, Horner said.
People born before 1957 or who have received immunizations as a child are likely safe from measles, she said.