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Clark County reports first measles case in 20 years

Ariel Javellana

Clark County has reported its first measles case in over 20 years. The case reported last week involves an infant too young to be vaccinated, causing public health officials to stress the importance of vaccines.

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases, but vaccines are highly effective against it.

Chris Cook is the assistant health commissioner with the Clark County Combined Health District. He urges parents to get their kids vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Kids become eligible for [the] vaccine when they first turn 12 months of age,” Cook said. “So when they hit one year old, they can get that first dose of MMR vaccine, which is a component of what protects you against measles.”

The MMR vaccine, or measles, mumps and rubella, is administered in two doses. The second dose can be given to children between the ages of four and six.

“The kids that are not vaccinated should be concerned, because if they’re exposed, there’s a 90% chance they’re going to get measles,” Cook said.

This danger should not be underestimated. According to Cook, one out of every five cases will be hospitalized, one out of every 20 will get pneumonia, and one out of every 1,000 cases will die.

According to the CDC, the MMR vaccine is 97% effective against measles. Without this vaccine, children are put at risk of contracting measles. That’s why Cook and other public health officials are so in favor of the vaccine, and have been working to educate people on it.

“We know that vaccination is our most effective tool,” Cook said.

You can contact your local provider, pharmacy, or clinic to get a MMR vaccine.

Ohio is in the midst of its largest measles outbreak since 2014 – more than 80 cases so far, according to a measles dashboard. The majority of these cases are located in and around the Columbus area.

It’s likely that the Clark County case has some connection to the ongoing outbreak in Columbus.

“It is the most contagious disease on the face of the earth. And the chances of this actually originating in Columbus are pretty high,” Cook said. “You don’t just see a case here, a case here, a case here, all geographically dispersed all at the same time. You typically see what’s called an epicenter, where you see a case happen and then you see the contacts, and it kind of balloons and mushrooms out.”

No known connection or transmission has been officially established, however.

Measles will first present symptoms one to two weeks after exposure. These first symptoms are typically a high fever, runny nose, and red watery eyes – symptoms common in many illnesses.

A few days after the first symptoms, tiny whit spots will develop inside the mouth. Then, the rash starts.

Cook said if you believe you or your child may have measles, call ahead to your provider before coming in. That way, you and your provider have time to take precautions.

“You don’t want to walk in as a potential measles case into a waiting room and expose others,” he said. “That’s what propagates the outbreak.”

Garrett is a WYSO intern and graduate of University of Dayton. He spent time covering the Dayton area with WDTN Channel 2 News after the 2019 Memorial Day Tornado outbreak. It was around this time that he began listening to NPR and fell in love with radio-based journalism. Garrett graduated from UD in May of 2021 with his Bachelor’s in Communications with a focus in journalism and graduated in May of 2022 with his Master’s. While not working at WYSO, Garrett is an avid reader, loves to play video games, and hanging out with his friends.