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Ohio is the focal point for largest measles outbreak in 20 years

Local health departments are keeping an eye out in case the measles spreads into the Cincinnati area.  So far, the closest case is Highland County involving an infant whose family traveled to north-central Ohio, where several counties are experiencing an outbreak of the virus.  

The Hamilton County Health Department's Director of Nursing and Disease Prevention, Pat Allingham, says the Centers For Disease Control website is tracking cases across the nation:

"The numbers have gone up substantially just in the last two weeks; there are 100 additional cases. So now, measles is present in 20 states and, unfortunately, Ohio is at the top of the list in terms of the number of cases."

Allingham and other health officials are urging people to make sure they're up to date on their vaccinations. State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary DiOrio  says the measles vaccine offers the best protection:

"Two doses of the measles vaccine provides about 97 percent effectiveness. So as we're talking about the outbreaks we've been seeing lately in Ohio, we can say that the vaccine is highly effective. We recommend that people seek out the vaccine if they haven't already been immunized in the past."

Measles symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Sore throat
  • A rash that appears three to five days after the start of symptoms

The Ohio Department of Health is tracking the state's outbreak on its website.  So far, there are more than 300 measles cases in 9 counties.

To help deal with the outbreak, Governor Kasich recently signed an executive order that allows licensed pharmacists to administer the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine to individuals 18 years and older.