Measles is spreading among children in Ohio two months after the first cases were detected. As of Thursday morning, there were at least 82 measles cases in central Ohio, officials said, all of whom are children.
Columbus Public Health First announced an investigation in the Nov. 9 outbreak after four confirmed cases of measles were linked to a Franklin County daycare center. All of those cases were in unvaccinated children with no travel history, officials said, as Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts urged parents to get their children vaccinated.
By the end of the month, the cases were linked to several other sites, including Polaris Mall, a church and a grocery store.
The number has since increased, and as of Thursday morning, Columbus Public Health reported at least 82 cases, including 32 hospitalizations. All of these cases are in children 17 and younger, with nearly 94% of these cases infecting infants, babies and children up to age 5, according to health data. So far, no child has died in the outbreak.
It appears so far that all children affected by the outbreak are at least partially unvaccinated, meaning they have only received one of the two doses needed for the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, known as MMR, although four children still have an unknown vaccine. vaccination status. It is recommended that children receive their first dose between 12 and 15 months and the second between 4 and 6 years.
Symptoms of measles – usually a high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes – appear a week or two after contact with the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a rash appearing three to five days after their appearance.
But “measles isn’t just a little rash,” the CDC says. “Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children.”
The MMR vaccine is critical to preventing the spread of measles because 90% of unvaccinated people exposed to the virus will become infected, Columbus health officials have warned. About 1 in 5 people with measles end up being hospitalized.
The Ohio outbreak has already surpassed the cases reported to the CDC in 2020 and 2021 combined and appears to make up the bulk of cases nationwide in 2022.
Dr. Shannon Dillon, a primary care pediatrician at Riley Children’s Health in Indiana, told CBS News this week that most outbreaks seen over the past decade are “clustered in unvaccinated people.”
“It’s hard to say what this one is going to do at this point because it looks like it’s early days,” she said. “…Any time you have a group of unvaccinated people who tend to associate with each other, there’s always a chance that it will spread quite quickly.”
Misinformation about vaccines and a lack of primary health care providers have made many parents reluctant to vaccinate their children against viruses like measles, she said. Vaccines remain “one of the most important things” that can be done to prevent the spread of disease.
“Things like measles killed millions of children around the world before the vaccine was available. And they’re very safe vaccines,” Dillon said. “The measles vaccine has been available since 1963 and has really had to be changed very little since. So we have decades of data showing how safe they are – and that’s something if you have any questions to You should feel comfortable talking to your child’s treating physician about this.”