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Central Ohio measles outbreak comes to an end with no fatalities

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  • Staff Report 

The recent outbreak of measles in central Ohio has officially come to an end, as announced by Columbus Public Health officials. The outbreak, which started in early November, affected 85 children, 36 of whom required hospitalization, but thankfully, none of them died. The outbreak was primarily driven by the lack of vaccination in the community, as all but five of the 85 cases were children 5 years old or younger.

The local health officials waited for two incubation periods of the measles virus, or 42 days, without any new cases being reported, before declaring the outbreak to be over. Despite the milestone, the officials stated that they still have test results pending for suspected cases.

The health department fought the outbreak by spreading awareness and promoting the importance of vaccination against the measles virus, especially for young children. The department’s efforts, along with the families of infected individuals who spoke out about their regret for not vaccinating their children, helped bring the outbreak under control.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 90% of children in the US have been vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) by the age of 2. Measles was declared eliminated in the US in 2000, but outbreaks can still occur if an unvaccinated person travels to a country where the disease is still prevalent and brings it back to the US.

The CDC sent a small team to Columbus to assist in tracking the spread of the virus and identifying new cases. Once a new case was confirmed, health officials worked to determine who had been in contact with the infected person, and whether or not they were vaccinated. Columbus Public Health states that about 90% of unvaccinated people who are exposed to measles will become infected.

The outbreak took Columbus Public Health by surprise, as they had never experienced a measles outbreak despite low MMR vaccination rates in the community for years. The low vaccination rates were influenced by false information about the MMR vaccine being linked to autism.

Dr. Tanya Altmann, founder of Calabasas Pediatrics and author of “Baby & Toddler Basics,” emphasizes the importance of getting the recommended MMR vaccinations for children, as it can reduce their risk of getting measles. She highlights the contagious nature of the virus, stating that if one person has measles and another person is unvaccinated, there’s a 90% chance the unvaccinated person will become infected.

In conclusion, the central Ohio measles outbreak serves as a reminder of the crucial role that vaccines play in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Making sure children receive their routine childhood vaccinations, including the MMR vaccine, is essential to protect not just the individual, but also the entire community.

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