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Health officials warn of measles outbreak

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RICHLAND COUNTY, Ohio — The Richland County Health Department released information on a measles outbreak and encouraged residents to take advantage of free MMR vaccinations.

Out of 270 cases, 187 were in Knox County.

There were also 49 cases in Homes county, 36 cases in Ashland County, 19 cases in Coshocton County, nine cases in Richland County and one case in Holmes County.

Eight total cases resulted in hospitalization.

Additional cases were reported in Stark County and Highland County, meaning the outbreak was spreading beyond the six county North Central Ohio group.

“The measles virus is highly contagious and spreads so easily that people who are not immune will probably get it when they come close to someone who is infected,” Martin Tremmel, Health Commissioner for Richland Public Health, said. “Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing. The droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air can remain ‘alive and active’ on inanimate objects for up to two hours.”

It may take one to three weeks for symptoms to appear, often beginning with fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite and red, watery eyes.

“Since the early symptoms represent other illnesses common at this time of the year, like allergies, it’s very possible that someone who has the measles virus, but does not know it, will pass it on to someone else,” Tremmel said. “That’s why it’s important to make sure you and family members are immunized.

After the initial symptoms, a rash that develops at the hairline then travels down the body usually follows for the next 5-6 days.

Measles can also cause diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (brain infection), seizures, and death.

Complications are more common in children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 20.

Health departments in each of the affected counties have been conducting special MMR vaccine clinics, and because of the outbreak, there is no charge.

Additionally, the vaccine is offered during regular immunizations clinics held at health departments.

For the list of MMR clinics, call 419-774-4540 or click here.

Contact your county health department if your area is not listed.