SYLVANIA, Ohio (WCMH/AP) — The Toledo-Lucas County Department of Health is investigating the first suspected case of measles in the area and what could be the first measles case in Ohio, officials said.
A student from an elementary school in Sylvania was taken to the ER with what looks like measles, but test results to confirm whether the student has the disease will not be available until next week, according to ABC13 Toledo.
Officials with the Ohio Department of Health say they just learned of the suspected case and are now working with the Lucas County Department of Health, said J.C. Benton, assistant director of Communications at the ODH.
Benton said if the student tests positive for the disease it would be the first measles case in Ohio.
The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department officials are encouraging families to vaccinate their children, according to the Toledo Blade.
“Schools in Ohio are required to ensure that children receive the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine unless exempted,” a statement from the department said, adding that measles is a very contagious, vaccine-preventable disease.”
This suspected case in Ohio comes as U.S. health officials say this year’s count of measles cases has surpassed 800, a growing tally that is already the nation’s highest in 25 years.
A total of 839 cases were reported as of last week. That’s the most since 1994, when 963 were reported for the entire year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the latest numbers Monday.
In all, 23 states have reported cases this year. The vast majority of illnesses have been in New York — most of them among unvaccinated people in Orthodox Jewish communities.
Measles was once common in the U.S. but gradually became rare after vaccination campaigns that started in the 1960s.
The Ohio Department of Health released the following statement about measles and prevention:
“Vaccination is the safest, most effective way to prevent serious vaccine-preventable diseases in children and adults, including measles,” Benton said.
We urge all Ohioans to talk with your healthcare provider to make sure that you and your children have received all recommended vaccines. If you do not have a healthcare provider, contact your local health department which may offer immunization clinics.”
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is highly effective at preventing transmission of measles. One dose of MMR vaccine is approximately 93% effective at preventing measles. Two doses are approximately 97% effective.
If one person has measles, up to 90% of those close to 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 also become infected. People infected with measles can spread it to others from four days before, through four days after, a rash appears.