Local summer camps watching measles outbreak

Posted: 7:41 AM, Jun 25, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-25 18:22:31-04
Summer camps are requiring children get vaccinated amid measles fears

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Experts say the measles outbreak that has affected thousands in the United States is spreading because Americans are vaccinating their children less.

For an infection that spreads as easily as measles, summer camps could be a spot where one sick child infects many more.

"It only takes one child to infect a whole city or a whole school," Jolanda Abukhalil said as she dropped her three children off at a day camp in Lakewood.

Campers at the Y.M.C.A. camp in Lakewood play with legos during their day at camp.

Abukahlil said she feels comfortable dropping her three kids off at the camp because she trusts the Lakewood School District to keep the building clean and she trusts the YMCA that runs the camp to make sure the kids stay healthy.

"I mean, it's very important because my kids are here all day," Abukhalil said.

Measles has been popping up all across the United States over the past nine months.

measles outbreak.jpg
Dark blue states show where there's been a reported measles case. Light blue states haven't reported any.

Click here for the Centers for Disease Control map.

The CDC has reported cases in New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan surrounding Ohio, but none yet in the Buckeye State.

University Hospitals Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Amy Edwards said it's only pure luck that's keeping measles out of Ohio.

"100 percent of the people who are exposed to the virus will get it unless they're already immune," Edwards said.

Edwards said the outbreak happening in the United States right now is because there are fewer Americans vaccinating their children. She said "herd immunity" has been a large part of why there hasn't been an outbreak in the past 20 years in the United States because infected individuals would only have contact with people who had been vaccinated.

"You're surrounding that infected individual with immune individuals so if they can't transmit it to that next ring, then you stop the ripple, the wave," Edwards said.

Edwards said vaccinations are so important because measles spreads so quickly.

"If you're vaccinated, you're safe," Edwards said. "If you're unvaccinated and exposed, you will get it."

At the YMCA camp in Lakewood where Abukhalil sends her kids, Youth Development Executive Director Dr. Pamela Jones said they rely on the school districts the kids attend to make sure their vaccinations are in order and keep a close eye on the campers.

The Y.M.C.A. summer camp in Lakewood says they pay attention to students behavior to make sure they aren't sick and contaminating other campers.

"If a child looks sick or if something does not seem quite right, we ask that parent to either take them back with them or we isolate that child if they're already in the program and make sure they are not contaminating any other children," Jones said.

Edwards said if the outbreak in the United States lasts much longer it could lose it's designation as a country where measles does not exist. Right now, a patient has to be infected with measles overseas and then bring it to the United States for any case or outbreak to happen in here.