Ohio reports first case of measles in two years amid national outbreak

Health officials in Ohio urge parents to get children vaccinated against highly contagious illnesses such as measles.

Ohio has its first case of measles and the state’s Health Department urged parents to vaccinate against the infectious disease.

State Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said Friday that the Stark County resident who got sick with measles had recently traveled to a state with confirmed measles cases. The case is the first confirmed instances of measles in two years. The last outbreak of the illness in Ohio was in 2014, with 382 confirmed cases.

The nation is experiencing a major spread of measles this year, with 28 states reporting cases.

“Vaccinations save lives, period. I urge everyone who can, to get vaccinated,” Acton said in a statement Friday. “Vaccination is the safest, most effective way to prevent serious vaccine-preventable diseases in children and adults, including measles.”

Measles is 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.

Born between 1957-1989?: You may not be protected from measles outbreak

Vaccines and autism: Large study adds to proof that measles vaccine doesn’t cause autism

People infected with measles can spread it to others from four days before, through four days after, a rash appears.

Measles is still common in many parts of world, and large outbreaks are currently occurring in Israel, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Ukraine and the Philippines. Travelers with measles bring the disease to the United States, where it can spread in communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.

Those planning international travel are encouraged to contact their health care providers to ensure that they are fully protected against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

Measles symptoms include a rash, high fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite and red, watery eyes. 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. More severe complications may also occur.

Complications from measles are more common among children younger than 5, adults older than 20, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

Follow Anne Saker on Twitter: @apsaker

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Measles: Ohio reports first case of year in Stark County