More than 230 patients and their families exposed after Montgomery County resident is infected with measles

Feb. 4—The Ohio Department of Health says it is working with local public health officials to try to identify and contact people who may have been exposed to measles at Dayton Children's Hospital early last week.

Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County says it has identified 232 patients at Dayton Children's who were exposed to the measles patient in the emergency department, plus an unknown number of their family members.

Dayton Children's also is contacting hospital staff who may have been exposed, said Dan Suffoletto, a spokesperson for public health.

Suffoletto said most people have been vaccinated, which means community members who were exposed would just need to monitor themselves for symptoms for 21 days.

Two doses of the measles vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles if there is exposure to the virus, while one dose is about 93% effective, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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This was the first case of measles recorded in Montgomery County in 19 years. The entire state of Ohio only had one measles case last year, and this is the first in the Buckeye State in 2024.

"Measles can be a very serious illness for anyone," Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff said in a statement. "The key to preventing measles is vaccination. If you are not vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to get the vaccine."

Local and state public health officials say they are trying to track down and notify individuals who may have been exposed to the highly contagious, airborne disease at the emergency department of Dayton Children's Hospital between Jan. 29 and 31.

A Montgomery County resident tested positive for measles after being evaluated at the hospital at One Children's Plaza in Old North Dayton.

The measles patient was at Dayton Children's emergency department between 11 p.m. Jan. 29 and 7 a.m. Jan. 30.

Individuals also may have been exposed if they were at the emergency department between 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Jan. 31.

Suffoletto said there are no other reported measles cases in Montgomery County at this time.

However, he said there is a 21-day incubation period and symptoms may develop at any time during that timeframe.

Ohio had just one measles case in 2023, but there were 90 in 2022, when an outbreak in central Ohio infected 85 people. Before this, the last confirmed case of measles in Montgomery County occurred in 2005.

Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County has activated an incident management team that is made up of dozens of people across a variety of "disciplines" to help respond to this event.

The Ohio Department of Health is working with health departments across the state to contact individuals from outside of Montgomery County who may have been exposed to the virus.

The measles virus is highly contagious in part because it can live for up to two hours in the air where an infected person coughed or sneezed, says state health officials.

"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 Ohio Department of Health said.

Measles infects the respiratory tract and then spreads throughout the body.

Infection often occurs when people breathe contaminated air or touch surfaces with the virus and then touch their eyes, noses or mouths.

Symptoms of the disease include high fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite and red, watery eyes.

A rash, which is a trademark symptom of the disease, usually lasts 5 to 6 days and begins at the hairline, moves to the face and upper neck and proceeds down the body, state health officials said.

Community members who were present at Dayton Children's Hospital emergency department during the dates and times provided should contact Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County to determine their potential level of exposure. The agency's phone number is 937-225-4508.

Public health staff are trying to determine the measles vaccination status of the individuals who were potentially exposed to the virus. Staff also are providing information to these individuals about potential quarantine measures if needed.

Public health says community members who might have been exposed and who are not fully vaccinated for measles should seek immunization as soon as possible.

Measles vaccine administered within 72 hours after exposure may prevent or reduce the severity of disease, the agency said.

Public health also is mailing notifications to people who have been identified with possible exposure.

"The safest way to protect children from measles is to make sure they are vaccinated," said Dr. Becky Thomas, medical director of Public Health — Dayton & Montgomery County.

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The state says the measles vaccine is "highly protective." The vaccine is called MMR because it protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

Suffoletto said the National Institute of Health estimates the effectiveness of the MMR vaccine to be 97% for measles prevention after a second vaccination. However, infants younger than the age of 12 months are not eligible to be vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age, the Ohio Department of Health said.

The state said roughly one out of 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.

Complications from measles are more common among children younger than 5 years of age, adults older than 20 years of age, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems, state health officials said.

About one in five children who get measles will be hospitalized with complications such as pneumonia, dehydration or brain swelling, according to local public health officials.