Measles outbreak spreads to 7 Ohio daycares, 1 school, all with unvaccinated children

A false color image of the measles virus.

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

On Nov. 9, the City of Columbus and Franklin County, which includes Columbus, health departments announced an epidemic in a daycare centre, which had sickened four unvaccinated children. Officials expected more cases to follow.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 18 confirmed cases at seven daycare centers 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 currently working to curb the outbreak, including conducting contact tracing in affected facilities, coordinating measles awareness efforts with local health care providers, and contacting families to educate and encourage them to get vaccinated against 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 walk-in MMR vaccines at Columbus Public Health Monday through Friday each week. We haven’t yet seen an uptick here on MMR vaccines from what we usually do, but that’s not indicative of global adoption as we don’t know what is given by community providers.”

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

Risky situation

Statewide, however, vaccination rates have plummeted amid the pandemic as well as dangerous anti-vaccine misinformation. In the 2019-20 school year, 92.4% of kindergarteners in Ohio received the MMR vaccine. But in the 2020-2021 school year, coverage fell to 89.6%. Public health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a rate of 95% is ideal for preventing the spread. Additionally, statewide numbers may mask pockets of extremely low vaccination rates, where vaccine-preventable diseases can easily spread.

Measles, a virus that is spread by coughing, talking or simply being in the same room as someone, will infect around 90% of unvaccinated people who are exposed. Once infected, symptoms usually appear seven to 14 days later, beginning with a high fever that can exceed 104°F, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes. A few days later, a telltale rash develops.

In the decade before a measles vaccine became available, the CDC estimates that the virus infected 3 to 4 million people in the United States each year, killing 400 to 500, hospitalizing 48,000 and causing severe illness. encephalitis (swelling of the brain) in 1,000.

Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, which means that thanks to vaccination, it is no longer continuously spreading in the country. But it has not been eradicated worldwide and is therefore still brought into the country from time to time by travelers, which is a problem. constant threat of epidemics in all areas with low vaccination rates. If measles is introduced and continues to spread for more than 12 months, the United States will lose its measles elimination statuswho he almost lost in 2019.

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

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