LCHD provides information on measles following recent national uptick in cases

For the Tomahawk Leader

LINCOLN COUNTY – The Lincoln County Health Department (LCHD) this week provided information on measles following a recent uptick in cases of the illness across the country.

According to a Wednesday, March 20 release from LCHD, as of Thursday, March 14, a total of 58 measles infections had been reported by 17 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.

Only 58 measles cases were reported in the United States for the entirety of 2023.

“Why is this important? Measles is one of the most contagious illnesses that we know of,” LCHD stated. “It is so easily spread, that for every group of 100 unvaccinated people exposed to measles, 90 will become infected. The measles virus remains in the air for two hours after an infected person leaves that room, so just walking through a room an infected person was in two hours prior is enough to be exposed.”

LCHD said measles, although once very common, has been on the decline since the introduction of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in 1963. Before that time, nearly all children got measles by age 15.

In Lincoln County, 10% of students across all schools are not up-to-date with their MMR vaccine as of the 2023-2024 school year, according to LCHD.

“Up-to-date is considered one dose of MMR vaccine for 3K and 4K students and two doses of MMR vaccine for those in kindergarten or older,” LCHD stated. “This is a significant number of students that are at risk of becoming infected if a child with measles comes to school.”

LCHD said it is reminding community members that the best protection against measles is the MMR vaccine.

“One dose is 93% effective against preventing measles infection, and two doses are 97% effective against preventing infection,” LCHD stated. “All children are recommended the first dose of MMR vaccine between the ages of 12-18 months and a second dose between the ages of four to six years old.”

Currently, 83% of all Lincoln County two-year-olds have their first dose of the MMR vaccine, according to LCHD.

“Measles is still very common in other parts of the world,” LCHD noted. “In 2022, an estimated 136,000 people, mostly children, died of measles.”

“Measles is really only a plane ride away,” said Kristi Krombholz, Public Health Nurse. “This is something everyone should keep in mind during spring break and traveling with families.”

Measles symptoms include high fever; runny nose; red, runny eyes; and a rash that starts from the head then moves down the body.

 Complications of measles can include hospitalization, pneumonia, encephalitis (brain swelling), pregnancy complications and death.

“What does this all mean for Lincoln County? As we continue to see declining vaccine rates, there becomes larger numbers of people that are able to become ill and spread measles,” LCHD stated. “So is measles back? It’s too soon to say, but based on increasing number of measles illnesses and less children vaccinated, it is likely to become something that we will see in Lincoln County, and not just on the news.”

For more information on measles, visit

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