An Ohio child has the first measles case in the state since 2019.
Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said the measles case involved an infected child from Franklin County who recently traveled to a country with confirmed measles cases.
“It is vitally important for children to stay up to date with all of the recommended vaccines,” Vanderhoff said. “Vaccines protect us against preventable, communicable diseases.”
Measles is an infectious viral disease that causes a high fever and red, blotchy rash and is accompanied by cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes, sore throat and loss of appetite.
“Measles is extremely contagious and can spread to others through coughing and sneezing,” the ODH stated in a release. “If one person has measles, up to 90% of those who come into contact with that person and who are not immune will also become infected.”
There is no treatment for the virus, which is potentially deadly, but a vaccine has been available since 1963. It was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, but anti-vaccination sentiment has allowed the virus to reemerge in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
Ohio had an outbreak in 2014 with 382 confirmed measles cases.
“In recent years, nationwide we have seen a slight drop in vaccination rates among our children,” Vanderhoff said. “This has led to several outbreaks, such as measles, that again, are largely preventable.”
Vanderhoff spoke about the importance of vaccinations during a Thursday media briefing about the state’s preparations in anticipation of the approval this weekend of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
Complications from measles are more common among children younger than 5, adults older than 20, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.
As many as one of every 20 children with measles get 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, or brain swelling, that can lead to convulsions and lead to deafness or an intellectual disability. One to three of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles will die from respiratory and neurologic complications, according to the ODH.