Officials: Measles vaccine supply ample

STEUBENVILLE — Officials at the Jefferson County Health Department said they have an ample supply of measles vaccine and measles booster vaccine available with the first reported measles case in Ohio.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton, confirmed the state’s first measles case of 2019. The young adult from Stark County recently traveled to a state with confirmed measles cases. The state health department is currently not disclosing additional information about the infected individual.

Nicole Balakos, Jefferson County health department board president, said measles vaccine and measles booster vaccine are available at the health department weekdays beginning at 8 a.m. The last patient is accepted at 3:30 p.m., except on Fridays when the last patient is seen at 2:30 p.m. Walk-ins are accepted, she said.

“Our nurses have the recommended vaccination schedules. Patients who are unsure of prior vaccination history should consult with their primary medical provider,” Balakos said.

The state health department reported Ohio occasionally sees measles cases as the result of importations from other countries where measles remains endemic. This is the first confirmed measles case in Ohio since 2017, the state health department reported. Twenty-eight states, including many neighboring states, already have measles cases, with several having confirmed measles outbreaks. Ohio’s last confirmed measles outbreak was in 2014, with 382 confirmed cases, according to the state health department.

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

Measles is extremely contagious and can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. If one person has measles, up to 90 percent of those who come into contact with that person and who are not immune will also become infected, according to the state health department. 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, nose or mouth can become infected, the state health department reported. People infected with measles can spread it to others from four days before, through four days after, a rash appears, according to state officials.

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, the state health department reported. Diarrhea and ear infections are common complications of measles. More severe complications may also occur.

State health officials said complications from measles are more common among children younger than 5 years of age, adults older than 20 years of age, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

“I recommend all Ohioans consult with their health care provider to make sure that you and your children have received all recommended vaccines, especially before students return to school,” Acton said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were 1,109 reported cases of measles across the country from January through July 3, the last reported update.

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