Measles outbreak in Ohio is largest in the U.S. since 1994


Staff/wire report

COLUMBUS

The Ohio Department of Health, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has provided updated guidance for hospitals to prevent the transmission of measles in health-care settings.

The guidance addresses what hospitals should do to ensure their health-care personnel demonstrate presumptive evidence of immunity to measles and how hospitals should follow the appropriate infection-control precautions when caring for patients suspected to have measles.

Ohio’s measles outbreak is the largest in the United States since 1994 and has reached 339 cases in nine counties — Knox, Crawford, Ashland, Coshocton, Highland, Holmes, Richland, Stark and Wayne.

“Health-care personnel might include physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, therapists, technicians, emergency-medical-service personnel, students and trainees, pharmacists and persons not directly involved in patient care but potentially exposed to infectious agents,” said Dr. Mary DiOrio, the state health department’s epidemiologist.

Evidence of immunity to measles includes written documentation of vaccination with two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, laboratory evidence of immunity, laboratory confirmation of having had measles previously, or birth before 1957 since most born earlier are immune due to past exposure to measles.

ODH continues to encourage people to make sure that they are up-to-date on their immunizations, including the MMR vaccine. When individuals are fully vaccinated, the MMR vaccine is 97 percent effective in preventing measles.

The heath department also continues to advise parents that contracting measles is especially serious for infants younger than one year of age. “Parents with infants too young to be vaccinated should consider not traveling with them to areas where measles outbreaks are occurring,” Dr. DiOrio said.

ODH and its local public-health partners support the vaccine recommendations set forth by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and CDC.

For information about measles, visit the ODH website at www.odh.ohio.gov/.

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