According to reports, a measles outbreak in Central Ohio infected 82 patients under the age of 18, and about 40% (32) of children required hospitalization.
The outbreak in Franklin County marks the first time a case has been reported in the area in 20 years, Axios reported.
The 82 cases in Franklin County make up the bulk of the 117 reported cases in the country.
Most cases were in infants aged 1 to 5 years who had not yet been vaccinated.
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None of the children were fully vaccinated against the highly contagious disease, which includes fever, runny nose and rash but can also lead to complications.
“Measles can be serious,” according to the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Children younger than 5 years old and adults older than 20 years are more likely to suffer from complications. Common complications are ear infections and diarrhea. Serious complications include pneumonia and encephalitis.”
A child must be at least 1 year old to receive the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, and 28% of those infected are reportedly not old enough to receive the vaccine.
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Mysheika Roberts, Columbus’s public health commissioner, told Axios that the outbreak is thought to have spread as a result of four unvaccinated people returning to the region from counties where measles is common.
“In 2000, measles was declared to be removed from the United States,” Charles Patterson, Health Commissioner for Clark County Combined Health District, told The Hill. “Unfortunately, we’re starting to see this again now, and it’s a big problem as there are fewer commercially available vaccines.”
Local health officials are encouraging Ohioans to get the MMR vaccine, which experts say is 97% effective.
“Measles is a very contagious and serious disease,” the City of Columbus Department of Health says on its website. “The MMR vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing measles. MMR vaccines are available at Columbus Public Health during normal vaccine clinic hours and by appointment only at Franklin County Public Health. Children can also receive MMR vaccines from their pediatrician or medical home.”
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No deaths were reported.