COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Ohio Department of Health confirmed Thursday that it has found the state’s first measles case since 2019.
The infected child is a 17-month-old infant in Columbus, or rather Columbus Public Health’s jurisdiction, city officials said in a release. The child had recently traveled to a country with confirmed measles cases and is unvaccinated, but was not infectious during travel.
Columbus Public Health is currently conducting contract tracing. Early results show there is no risk to general public. This is the first confirmed measles case in Ohio since 2019. Ohio’s last measles outbreak was in 2014, with 382 confirmed cases.
“It is vitally important for children to stay up to date with all of the recommended vaccines,” ODH Director Bruce Vanderhoff said in the release. “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, said the ODH.
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.
Measles symptoms include a rash, high fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite and red, watery eyes, said the ODH. 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 of measles.
Measles is still common in many parts of world, and travelers with measles bring the disease into U.S. where it can spread in communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.
“In recent years, nationwide we have seen a slight drop in vaccination rates among our children,” Vanderhoff said in the release. “This has led to several outbreaks, such as measles, that again, are largely preventable.”