Ohio health officials issued a warning to attendees at a Disney on Ice show in Cincinnati last week may have been exposed to measles.

The Cincinnati Health Department reported a person with measles attended the show on March 8 at Heritage Bank Center, which seats more than 17,000 people.

People at the show or who were in the building up to two hours after the 7 pm should stay vigilant for symptoms of infection – high fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and a rash beginning 3-5 days after other symptoms occur.

The United States appears to be heading down the path of a potential measles crisis, with cases in the first two months of 2024 nearly outpacing the whole of last year.

People who attended the March 8 Disney on Ice show were exposed to a case of measles, according to local health officials [File from 2016 Toronto show]

The case in Ohio comes on the heels of two cases being confirmed at a migrant shelter in Chicago

A total of 45 measles cases were recorded in the US over the first two months of 2024 across 17 states, data from the CDC suggests, near the tally of 58 infections recorded in the whole of 2023. 

Florida is a hotspot with at least 10 infections linked to Manatee Bay Elementary School in South Florida. 

Ohio has reported four cases of measles so far this year. In one of the counties where a case was reported, Montgomery County, it was the first measles infection since 2005. 

And it comes on the heels of a second measles case being confirmed in a migrant shelter in Chicago, marking the first cases in the state in the last five years and highlighting the public health risk overcrowded migrant housing poses.

At the same time, vaccination rates against the virus dropped to 93.1 percent for kindergarteners over the 2022 to 2023 school year, the latest available — below the estimated 95 percent needed to stop the virus from spreading. 

Measles is highly infectious and very preventable. 

Florida is a hotspot with at least 10 infections linked to Manatee Bay Elementary School in South Florida

Dr Julia Rosebush from the University of Chicago said: ‘For persons who are unimmunized and have never been exposed to the virus, the likelihood of contracting measles is 90 percent in close-contact settings. 

‘Patients with measles infection are contagious from four days before the rash through four days after the rash appears.’ 

It was declared eliminated — meaning the absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than a year – from the US in 2000. This was thanks to a highly effective vaccination program to administer the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

But the rise of the anti-vax movement has set the US back about 24 years. 

Generally, when a large enough population gets vaccinated, the transmission of the virus can become so low that the overall herd immunity protects someone who cannot get vaccinated and is therefore vulnerable to severe infection. 

Children undergoing cancer treatments, for instance, are at high risk but may not get the full benefits of a vaccine. 

Symptoms of the virus typically come one about a week after exposure to it. They start with runny nose, watery eyes, and fever. That can progress quickly to a rash on the body.

Other symptoms may include a sore throat, white spots in your mouth, muscle pain, and sensitivity to light.

Measles can be severe and life threatening. In fact, about 1 in 5 unvaccinated people in the US who get measles is hospitalized. 

A person can suffer pneumonia and encephalitis, or a condition in which the brain becomes so inflamed that it swells in size

In the US, death from neurologic or respiratory complications of measles occurs in one to three of every 1,000 cases

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