Huron County's health commissioner Tim Hollinger is reaching out to Mennonites in the southern part of the county to ensure that they get their children inoculated as Ohio battles measles and mumps outbreaks.
Richland County, directly south of Huron County, has a siginficant Mennonite population, and a growing number of people who are in the faith have begun to settle in the Greenwich area, in southern Huron County, where Hollinger himself lives, he said. Huron County officials said they could not provide numbers for the county's Mennonite population.
Most of Huron County's children attend public or Catholic schools, where authorities have generally been successful in getting children inoculated with the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine. Mennonite children, however, do not attend those schools. Mennonites sometimes follow a lifestyle similar to the better-known Amish.
So instead, Hollinger told the health board at Thursday afternoon's board meeting at the department's offices that he is talking to Mennonite bishops, asking them to please allow the health department to go door-to-door administering vaccinations.
"I know most of the bishops. You have to explain it to them in livestock terms," Hollinger said, pointing out that mumps can make young men sterile.
"We work our way into measles from there," Hollinger said.
As of Friday, the state health department counted 239 measles cases statewide due to an outbreak that began in March, including 143 in Knox County, 36 in Ashland County and 33 in Holmes County.
There have been 411 mumps cases in Ohio in the outbreak that began in early January, including 341 in Franklin County, according to statistics compiled by the state health department.
The state health department's count does not include any mumps cases in Huron County, but the county has had one mumps case, said Katherine Sabourin, epidemiologist for Huron County's health department. There have been no measles cases in Huron County so far, she said.