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Health officials in Ohio are reporting the state’s first measles case of 2022. The infected child is from Franklin County and recently traveled to a country with confirmed measles cases.

Public domain image/David Benbennick

This is the first confirmed measles case in Ohio since 2019.

“It is vitally important for children to stay up to date with all of the recommended vaccines,” Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA said. “Vaccines protect us against preventable, communicable diseases.”

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.

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, 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.

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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.

How contagious is measles? Answer: Very

Ohio occasionally sees measles cases as the result of importations from other countries where measles remains endemic.

 Ohio’s last confirmed measles outbreak was in 2014, with 382 confirmed cases.