Measles outbreak jumps to 7 Ohio daycare centers, 1 school—all with unvaccinated children

Measles outbreak jumps to 7 Ohio daycare centers, 1 school—all with unvaccinated children

Measles outbreak jumps to 7 Ohio daycare centers, 1 school—all with unvaccinated children

Measles outbreak jumps to 7 Ohio daycare centers, 1 school—all with unvaccinated children

A false color image of the measles virus.

A measles outbreak in Ohio spread quickly, spreading to seven daycare centers and one school, all with unvaccinated children, according to local health officials. The outbreak highlights the risk of a surge in the highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease amid falling vaccination rates.

On November 9, the health departments of the city of Columbus and Franklin County, which includes Columbus, announced the outbreak in a childcare facility, from which four unvaccinated children became ill. Officials reportedly expected more cases to follow.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 18 confirmed cases from seven kindergartens and one school. All cases are in unvaccinated children, and at least 15 cases are in children under 4 years old. At least six required hospitalization, Columbus Public Health spokeswoman Kelli Newman told Ars.

Health officials are now working to contain the outbreak, including contact tracing at affected facilities, coordinating with local health care providers in measles awareness efforts, and reaching out to families to educate and encourage them to get the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. .

“MMR vaccines are very safe and very effective in preventing measles,” Newman told Ars in an email. “We offer the MMR vaccine at Columbus Public Health Monday through Friday every week. We haven’t seen an increase in the MMR vaccine here yet compared to what we normally do, but that’s not indicative of overall uptake because we don’t know what providers in the community are giving it.”

Ars reached out to the Ohio Department of Health, which keeps records of vaccination rates statewide, but numbers for the city of Columbus and Franklin County were not available. We will update this story if they are provided.

Risky situation

However, across the country, vaccination rates have fallen amid the pandemic as well as dangerous anti-vaccine misinformation. In the 2019–2020 school year, 92.4 percent of kindergarteners in Ohio received the MMR vaccine. But in the 2020-2021 school year. coverage dropped to 89.6 percent. Public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a 95 percent rate is ideal for preventing the spread. What’s more, statewide numbers can mask pockets of extremely low vaccination rates, where vaccine-preventable diseases can spread easily.

Measles, a virus spread by coughing, talking or simply being in the same room with someone, will infect an estimated 90 percent of unvaccinated people who are exposed. After you become infected, symptoms usually appear seven to 14 days later, starting with a high fever that can rise above 104°F, a cough, a runny nose, and watery eyes. A few days later, a telltale rash develops.

In the decade before the measles vaccine became available, the CDC estimates that the virus infected 3 to 4 million people in the US each year, killed 400 to 500, hospitalized 48,000 and caused encephalitis (swelling of the brain) in 1,000.

Measles was declared eliminated from the US in 2000, meaning that – thanks to vaccination – it no longer spreads continuously in the country. But it has not been eradicated all over the world and therefore travelers still bring it to the country from time to time, presenting it constant danger of disease outbreaks in all areas with a low vaccination rate. If measles is brought in and continues to spread for more than 12 months, the US will lose its own measles elimination statuswho she almost lost in 2019.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to correct a typo. Measles was declared eliminated in the US in 2000, not 2020.

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