A measles outbreak in central Ohio has infected at least 82 children, including 32 who have been hospitalized, according to Columbus Public Health (CPH).
Health officials announced they started investigating the outbreak on November 9 after a child became infected at a childcare facility in Franklin County, where Columbus is located. Within the next few weeks, cases were reported at a mall, a church, and a Dollar Tree. There were only four reported measles cases at the time.
Of those infected, 54 patients are between the ages of one and five, 23 are under one year old, and five are six years and older.
The CPH noted that 74 of those infected had not received any dose of an MMR (measles, mumps, or rubella) vaccine, and everyone infected had not been fully vaccinated (two doses). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends children receive their first dose of the MMR vaccination between 12 to 15 months old and their second dose between four to six years old.
No deaths have been reported.
Measles is highly contagious because it can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can cause severe complications for children under five years old.
“It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 9 out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected,” the CDC states on its website. “Your child can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left.”
Common complications of measles include ear infections and diarrhea, while severe complications include pneumonia–which infects 1 in 20 children with measles–and encephalitis–which infects 1 in 1,000 children with measles.
Public health officials in Ohio are blaming the resurgence of measles within the state and country on fewer children being vaccinated.
“In the year 2000, measles was declared gone from the United States,” Charles Patterson, the health commissioner for Clark County Combined Health District, told the Hill. “Unfortunately, we are starting to see it back now and that’s a huge problem because of the reduction in vaccines that are out there.”
Columbus health officials are also urging local parents to vaccinate their children with an MMR vaccine.
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