Measles, Mumps cases rise in Central Ohio

From Kay Benick, RN, BSN, Director of Nursing, Morrow County Health Department

May 6, 2014

The number of measles cases linked to a Central Ohio outbreak has increased to 32 in 6 Ohio counties. There are now 303 reported mumps cases in 14 Ohio counties linked to a separate outbreak that began in Central Ohio.

The Morrow County Health Department staff is working with neighboring health departments, the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate and prevent new cases of measles and mumps.

The measles outbreak began in March in humanitarian workers who had traveled to the Philippines where roughly 20,000 people have been infected.

The mumps outbreak began in early January on the Ohio State University’s main campus, with over half of the reported cases being linked to OSU. As classes end this week and students head home for summer break, there is concern that the outbreak will move throughout the State.

As of May 1, 2014, the Morrow County Health Department is investigating three reported cases of mumps. No cases of measles have been reported in Morrow County.

Measles and mumps are contagious diseases primarily spread when respiratory droplets containing the virus are coughed or sneezed into the air.

Because the diseases are easily spread from person to person, the best way to protect against measles and mumps is to receive the MMR (or measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

Most of the cases of measles and mumps being reported to the Ohio Department of Health have been in people who have not gotten any MMR vaccines or have not completed their series of MMR vaccines.

“Some people are reluctant to vaccinate against diseases that we don’t see very often because the risk feels theoretical,” said Stephanie Shaver, RN, Communicable Disease Nurse for the Morrow County Health Department. “These diseases were nearly wiped out in the U.S., but outbreaks oversees and growing pockets of unvaccinated people have brought them back, making the MMR vaccine especially important now.”

A community MMR immunization clinic will be held Monday, May 5 at the Highland High School cafetorium. The clinic will run from 4 to 6 PM and is open to the public. MMR vaccine will also be offered at the Morrow County Health Department on Wednesday, May 21 from 4 to 7 PM. MMR vaccination clinics will also be held for the Amish community on May 6 and May 13. There is no charge for the MMR vaccine at the community clinics.

The health department held a community MMR vaccination clinic on April 30 at Cardington-Lincoln Elementary School, vaccinating 41.

People in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s may be unprotected against measles and mumps today because those born before 1987 were not required to get a second dose of MMR vaccine for school. Two doses of vaccine are needed to develop a full immune response. Those born before 1957 likely developed immunity from exposure to measles and mumps.

The MMR vaccine is recommended for all children at age 12 through 15 months, with a second (or booster) dose at age 4 through 6 years. Adults with no evidence of immunity should get 1 dose of MMR unless the adult is in a high-risk group. High-risk individuals including healthcare personnel, international travelers, and students at post-high school educational institutions, should get 2 doses. Pregnant women should not get the MMR vaccine but should talk with their doctor immediately if they have been exposed.

Public Health Nurses at the Morrow County Health Department are available Monday through Thursday from 7:15 AM to 5:00 PM to answer questions, review shot records and evaluate any needed immunizations. Appointments for immunizations are required and can be made by calling (419)947-1545 ext.: 327.