The Ohio Department of Health says the first case of measles this year has been confirmed in Ohio.

The health department says a young adult from Stark County recently traveled to a state with confirmed measles cases.

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. 

Ohio Measles chart
Ohio Department of Health

“One case is considered an outbreak because it was irradiated many years ago. The last time we had a case of measles in Lucas County was 2017 and it was one case. that is how rare of how infrequent it has been. And that is attributed to people being fully vaccinated” said Kelly Burkholder-Allen, director of nursing and health services with the Toledo Lucas County Health Department.

Measles is extremely contagious and can spread to others through coughing and sneezing.

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.

If other people breathe the contaminated air or touch an infected surface and then touch their eyes, noses, or mouths, they can 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 5-6 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.

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.

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 an intellectual disability. One to three of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles will die from respiratory and neurologic complications.

Measles may cause pregnant women who have not had the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby.

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.

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

ODH is sharing vaccination guidance and information with all its partners, including local health departments, hospitals, health care providers, K-12 educators and school nurses, higher education leaders, other state agencies and faith-based organizations.

“I recommend all Ohioans consult with their health care provider to make sure that you and your children have received all recommended vaccines,” said Director Acton. “Especially before students return to school. If you do not have a health care provider, contact your local health department which may offer immunization clinics.”