Number of measles, mumps cases continues to grow

By Stacy Kess

April 28, 2014

By Stacy Kess

Measles and mumps continue to be identified in more counties and the number of cases continues to grow, according to Ohio Department of Health numbers released Monday afternoon: 21 cases of measles, most in neighboring Knox County and 288 cases of mumps, 30 in Delaware County.

Both measles and mumps are caused by viruses against which children are immunized with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR).

ODH said the most effective method of prevention against measles, mumps and other vaccine preventable viruses is MMR. They also encourage hand-washing and covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. Those with symptoms are encouraged to stay home and away from others.

Public health experts report about 97- to 99-percent effectiveness in preventing measles and about a 90-percent effectiveness in preventing mumps when children have received both doses of MMR recommended in childhood; the first dose is generally given between 12 and 15 months of age and a second dose is given between 4 and 6 years of age, prior to starting kindergarten.

While most children in Ohio receive MMR, the vaccine is medically contraindicated for some children. Parents may also choose to withhold the vaccine for religious or personal reasons.

ODH said the cases of measles began with unvaccinated individuals traveling to the Philippines where measles is still prevalent. Cases have occurred in people ranging in age from 2 to 49. Three counties are reporting cases of measles.

Knox had 19 cases, while Richland and Wayne have one each.

Measles is caused by a highly contagious respiratory virus that spreads through droplets from a cough. Symptoms begin with a cough, runny nose and fever, after which spots begin to appear in the mouth and a rash begins to form. Measles can be transmitted from four days prior to the onset of the rash to four days after the onset.

ODH has warned that unimmunized individuals exposed to measles have a high likelihood of contracting it.

The mumps outbreak began at The Ohio State University in January; it has continued to spread to those with a relationship to OSU or individuals at OSU and has also spread into the larger community setting. Mumps cases have been identified in people ranging in age from 9 months to 80 years of age. In total, 13 counties are reporting cases of mumps, both linked to the OSU outbreak and as part of the community outbreak.

By county, the case totals are: Delaware, 30 cases; Franklin (including Columbus), 239 cases; Athens, one case; Belmont, one case; Fairfield, two cases; Hamilton, two cases; Licking, 5 cases; Madison, two cases; Marion, one case; Pickaway, two cases; Ross, one case; Union, one case.

Public health experts estimate before 1957, 90 percent of adults had mumps, either with symptoms or asymptomatic. However, cases of mumps have appeared in children as young as nine months and in adults as old as 80 during the Ohio outbreak. The Delaware General Health District and other public health departments are asking anyone who is unsure of their vaccination status to be vaccinated with MMR.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests post-secondary students receive a booster prior to college due to the close quarters such as dormitories; mumps is spread by droplets from the nose and mouth by close contact and sharing cups and utensils. Healthcare workers are also encouraged to get an MMR booster.

Symptoms of mumps include fever, body aches, fatigue, swelling of salivary glands, or pain with chewing or swallowing.

Up to 15 percent of people with mumps may also experience stiff neck and headache.

About a third of patients will show mild symptoms or no symptoms.

Symptoms usually begin 14 to 18 days after catching the virus, but the virus can be spread to others before symptoms even occur, according to the CDC. Transmission is likely before the salivary glands begin to swell and within five days after the swelling starts.

For more information on vaccination availability or if symptoms occur, Delaware residents are encouraged to contact the Delaware General Health District, at 740-368-1700, or their primary care provider.

Stacy Kess can be reached at 740-363-1161, ext. 312, or on Twitter @StacyMKess.