False color image of measles virus.

False color image of measles virus.

A measles outbreak in Ohio has spread rapidly, spreading to seven day care facilities and one school, all of which involved unvaccinated children, local health officials said. The outbreak highlights the risk of mushrooming of a highly contagious but vaccine-preventable disease on vaccination rates.

On Nov. 9, the City of Columbus and Franklin County health departments, which include Columbus; announced that it happened At a daycare facility, four unvaccinated children became ill. Officials reportedly expected more cases to follow.

As of Wednesday morning, there are 18 confirmed cases from seven childcare facilities and one school. All cases are unvaccinated children, and at least 15 cases are in children under 4 years of age. At least six need hospitalization, Kelly Newman, a spokeswoman for Columbus Public Health, told Ars.

Health officials are working to contain the outbreak, conducting contact tracing at affected facilities, coordinating measles awareness efforts with local health providers, and contacting families to educate and encourage the measles-mumps-measles (MMR) vaccine. ) vaccine.

“MMR vaccines are very safe and very effective in preventing measles,” Newman told Ars in an email. “At Columbus Public Health, we give walk-in MMR shots every week Monday through Friday. We haven’t seen any of the MMR shots that we usually do, but that doesn’t indicate universal coverage because we don’t know what it is. It’s given by providers in the community.”

Ars reached out to the Ohio Department of Health, which keeps records of vaccination rates around the state, but city numbers for Columbus and Franklin County were not readily available. We’ll update this story if they come forward.

Dangerous situation

However, at the regional level, vaccination rates have declined amid the epidemic and dangerous anti-vaccine misinformation. During 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 dose is ideal for preventing transmission. Additionally, regional numbers can obscure pockets of very low vaccination rates, where vaccine-preventable diseases can spread more easily.

Measles, which is spread by coughing, talking or simply sharing a room with someone, infects 90 percent of exposed unvaccinated people. After contracting the disease, symptoms generally appear seven to 14 days later, starting with a high fever that can rise above 104°F, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes. After that, a rash appears after a few days.

In the decade before the measles vaccine was available, the CDC estimated that the virus infected 3 to 4 million people in the US each year, killing 400 to 500, hospitalizing 48,000 and causing encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in 1,000.

Measles It was declared eradicated from the U.S. in 2000, meaning it no longer circulates continuously in the country thanks to a vaccine. But it has not been destroyed around the world and is still imported from time to time by travelers. Constant threat of epidemic In areas with low vaccination rates. If measles continues to spread for more than 12 months, the United States will lose. Measles elimination statuswhich one In 2019, it almost disappeared.

Editor’s note: This post has been edited to correct spelling. Measles has been declared eliminated in the US by 2000, not 2020.

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