Health officials tracking measles and mumps outbreaks in Ohio are urging residents to stay up-to-date on immunizations to prevent illnesses from spreading.
The Department of Health said the spread of such diseases can accelerate when people gather in large groups, such as at picnics, camps, fairs and other common warm-weather activities.
Health agencies have confirmed 321 mumps cases in central Ohio, and 191 of those are linked to Ohio State University. Officials said the origin of the outbreak might never be known.
A measles outbreak is being tracked a bit further to the northeast in a six-county area. Twenty-nine of the 42 confirmed cases are in Knox County. Officials said that outbreak began with unvaccinated travelers who visited the Philippines, which has had a measles epidemic.
Locally, health officials are using the recent news reports as a springboard to remind parents to vaccinate their children.
Kathy Boylan, health commissioner for the Elyria Health District and Lorain Health Department, said now is a good time for people to think about immunizations.
“I don’t want people to get scared to think we have measles or mumps in Lorain County, because we don’t,” she said. “But with so many other cases in Ohio, it is best to remind people that immunization clinics are held every month. The MMR vaccine is a combine vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella.”
Boylan said children need a total of two MMR vaccines taken at different points in their life — the first dose between 12 and 15 months and the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age.
The Elyria Health District offers child’s vaccinations 8:30 to 11 a.m. the first Thursday of each month and 1 to 4 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at the health district’s office, 202 Chestnut St.
The next vaccination clinic will be 1 to 4 p.m. May 16.
The Lorain General Health District held a vaccination clinic Wednesday in response to four reported cases of pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, in the Avon school district.
The TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) booster is a required vaccination for all incoming seventh-grade students; however, due to the number of confirmed cases and the ages of the students involved, the Lorain County General Health District is recommending that all 11- and 12-year-olds receive the booster shot, according to its website. For more information, call (440) 322-6367.