A measles outbreak in central Ohio has reportedly infected 82 patients under the age of 18, with nearly 40% of the children, 32, requiring hospitalization.
The outbreak in Franklin County is the first time a case has been reported in the area in 20 years, Axios reported.
Franklin County’s 82 cases make up the majority of the country’s 117 reported cases.
The majority of cases involved babies aged between 1 and 5 years who had not yet been vaccinated.
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None of the children had been fully vaccinated against the highly contagious disease, which is associated with fever, runny nose and skin rash, but can also lead to complications.
“Measles can be serious,” states the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. “Children under the age of 5 and adults over the age of 20 are more likely to have complications. Common complications include ear infections and diarrhea. Serious complications are pneumonia and encephalitis.”
A child must be at least 1 year old to get the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and reportedly 28% of those infected were underage to get it.
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The outbreak was believed to have spread as a result of four unvaccinated individuals returning to the area from counties where measles is widespread, Mysheika Roberts, Columbus’ public health commissioner, told Axios.
“In 2000, measles was declared extinct in the United States,” Charles Patterson, health commissioner for the Clark County Combined Health District, told The Hill. “Unfortunately we’re seeing it again now and that’s a big problem because of the reduction in vaccines available.”
Local health officials are encouraging Ohio residents to get the MMR vaccine, which experts say is 97% effective.
“Measles is a very contagious and serious disease,” according to the Columbus City Health Department’s website. “The MMR vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing measles. MMR vaccines are available from Columbus Public Health during regular vaccine clinic hours and from Franklin County Public Health by appointment only. Children can also get MMR vaccines from their pediatrician or received from their medical facility.”
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No deaths were reported.