An outbreak of measles in Columbus, Ohio, has left dozens of unvaccinated children hospitalized, and local public health officials are seeking help from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’ve asked the CDC for help and they’re sending two epidemiologists at the end of the month,” said Kelly Newman, a spokeswoman for Columbus Public Health.

The CDC confirmed Thursday that it was aware of the cases and “is deploying a small team to Ohio to assist with the investigation on the ground.”

“State and local health officials are in the process of notifying potentially exposed residents, ensuring they are vaccinated, and helping any exposed community members understand the signs and symptoms of measles infection,” CDC spokeswoman Kristin Nordlund said in an email. For CNN. “Anyone who may have been exposed should follow up with their health care provider.”

When Measles was first reported last week.Only four confirmed cases have been found at one childcare facility that has been temporarily closed – but the number of cases and facilities has grown.

“As of today, we are investigating 24 cases of measles at nine day cares and two schools,” Newman said. “All the cases were unvaccinated children, and all but one were under the age of 4. A child is 6 years old.

Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health officials have been investigating these cases and tracing any contacts who may have been exposed to the measles virus.

Columbus public health officials are encouraging parents to make sure their children are up-to-date on their vaccinations, including the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. It is known as the MMR vaccine.

Experts recommend that children receive the vaccine in two doses: the first between 12 months and 15 months and the second between 4 and 6 years. A single dose is about 93% effective in preventing measles if it comes into contact with the virus. Two doses are about 97% effective.

“We are working diligently with cases to identify potential exposures and notify those at risk,” said Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheka Roberts. He said in a news release last week. “The most important thing you can do to prevent measles is to get vaccinated with the safe and highly effective measles-mumps-measles (MMR) vaccine.”

About 90% of unvaccinated people exposed to measles become infected, according to Columbus Public Health, and about 1 in 5 people in the U.S. who get measles are hospitalized.

However, the CDC says More than 90% of children in the US are vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella by age 2.

Measles is a highly contagious disease and can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or if a person comes into direct contact or shares germs by touching the same objects or surfaces. Symptoms of measles can include fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and a rash of red spots. In rare cases, it can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, or death.

When the measles outbreak in Columbus gets into an area and spreads among unvaccinated people, it’s “a very common scenario,” said Dr. David Friedman, professor of infectious diseases. University of Alabama at Birmingham and founding director of Travelers Health Clinic.

Friedman said that in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, when many people stayed at home and some health care facilities were closed, many children missed routine vaccinations — and still didn’t get MMR shots.

“Nationwide, there are many children who are behind in their routine immunizations. “So I think the message is still, if your child is 1 year or older, they should be vaccinated,” said Friedman, a spokeswoman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“Measles is not a disease that occurs especially in winter. It is less likely to be affected by travel because it usually occurs in young, immunocompromised children. “Most adults have received the vaccine,” he said. However, he added, “Measles is highly contagious. Measles is probably the most contagious disease we know. It is probably 10 times more contagious than covid.

In 1912 Measles A A nationally recognized disease In the United States, health care providers and laboratories were required to report suspected cases. In the decades that followed, an average of about 6,000 measles-related deaths were recorded each year.

In the year In the 1950s, researchers isolated the measles virus in patient blood and in the 1960s were able to convert the virus into a vaccine. The vaccine was licensed and then used as part of an immunization program.

in the past Measles vaccination program In the year Introduced in the United States in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people are infected nationwide, according to the CDC. Since then, measles cases and deaths have declined in the United States and other developed countries. There were 963 cases reported in the United States in 1994 and 508 in 1996.

The last major case of measles reported in the US was in 2011. It was in 2019. The largest since the disease was discovered In the year It included more than a thousand confirmed cases in 2000 and 31 states — the highest number of reported cases in the US since 1992.

In general, the number of reported measles cases in the United States is low because of the widespread use of vaccines, said Dr. Martin Hirsch. Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, where he serves as editor of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

As of October 28, a total of 33 cases of measles have been reported in five states in the United States. According to the CDC.

“More than 90% of people in the United States get measles, and even though it’s a highly contagious virus, I don’t expect to see the rates we’re seeing now with RSV because we don’t ‘get the RSV vaccine,'” said Hirsch, a Increase in respiratory syncytial virus infections Across the country, mostly among children.

“Most of the measles cases we see in the United States come from people who come to this country from other countries where vaccination rates are very low, and then spread to unvaccinated U.S. residents,” Hirsch said. A spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “So there’s always a chance that someone coming into the country with the measles virus could spread it to the unvaccinated population.”

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