Summer is in full swing and the smell of sunscreen fills the air.  While protecting your skin has become a more natural routine, this summer we also have to make sure our families are protected from the measles. 
 
Ohio is currently experiencing an outbreak of measles.  Just two months ago, the Ohio Department of Health was notified by Knox County officials about the first cases.  They reported that unvaccinated travelers returning from outside the country were infected.  As of June 23rd, this illness has spread to nine counties, including Stark County.  One of the newest cases involves an infant less than six months old.  There are over 348 confirmed cases, making it the largest outbreak in the United States since 1994.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Ohio Department of Health and local jurisdictions are working together to investigate these outbreaks.  However, we can all help by making sure our family members have received the mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccine.  This vaccination is the most effective way to minimize the spread of infection.  Measles is a viral respiratory disease caused by the measles virus.  It is highly contagious and can be transmitted by a sneeze, a cough, or from an infected surface.  Symptoms typically begin with a fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, red and watery eyes followed by a rash.  The rash usually begins around the hairline and proceeds down the body.  There is no treatment for measles, which is why it is so important to make sure you are vaccinated.  It is important to note that you cannot get the measles more than once.
 
Governor Kasich signed an emergency executive order on June 9th to allow licensed pharmacists to administer the MMR vaccine to individuals 18 years and older.  If you have plans to travel to affected areas in the United States or abroad, it is recommended that you check with your healthcare provider to make sure you are up to date on your immunizations.  The other affected counties in Ohio are Ashland, Coshocton, Crawford, Highland, Holmes, Knox, Richland, and Wayne.  Cases range from under six months to 53 years old and eight hospitalizations have been reported. 
 
For more information you can visit http://www.cdc.gov/measles/case-outbreaks.html or http://www.odh.ohio.gov/features/odhfeatures/Measles%202014.aspx.  
 
I always appreciate hearing from my constituents.  You can reach me by calling (614) 466-0626, emailing Oelslager@OhioSenate.gov, or by writing me at 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

 
 
 
  
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