Measles cases moving closer to Highland County


Measles is a highly contagious disease and has gained a lot of attention in the media lately. With confirmed cases getting closer and closer to Highland County, the Highland County Health Department is working to educate community members about measles and prevention measures.

“It is important to know that measles is more than just a rash and can have long lasting effects on your health. Symptoms typically appear 10 to 14 days after contact with the disease,” said Shala Shupert, a public health nurse with the Highland County Health Department. “In most cases symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes followed by a rash that starts at the face and spreads to the rest of the body. However, in more severe cases complications such as pneumonia, brain swelling, and even death can occur.”

Measles spreads easily through coughing or sneezing, and you can catch it simply by being in a room where an infected person has been, even up to two hours after they have left. Infected individuals can spread the disease from four days before the rash appears until four days after the rash is gone. While serious in all age groups, certain individuals are at higher risk for complications, including children under 5, adults over 20, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems, Shupert said.

The most effective way to prevent measles is through vaccination. The measles vaccine, usually administered as part of the MMR vaccine that also protects against mumps and rubella, is safe and highly effective. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles, while one dose is about 93% effective. It is typically given at 12-15 months and again at 4-6 years, but individuals without evidence of immunity can still receive the vaccine later in life, according to Shupert.

“Vaccination efforts have greatly lowered measles cases globally since the vaccine’s introduction in the 1960s. However, outbreaks can still occur, particularly in communities with low vaccination rates. If you or your child is behind on measles vaccines, or if you are unsure of your immunity status, it is important to get caught up as soon as possible. Contact the Highland County Health Department at 937-393-1941 or visit to schedule an appointment. By getting vaccinated, you protect yourself, your family, and your community from the threat of measles,” Shupert said.

Shala Shupert is a public health nurse with the Highland County Health Department.

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