A measles outbreak in Ohio has infected at least 82 children and left 32 hospitalized, said Columbus Public Health in an update posted Dec. 30.
Health officials said weeks ago that they began investigating after a child became infected at a childcare facility in Franklin County, later saying that cases have been reported at a number of different locations. They include a Dollar Tree, a mall, a church, and other locations.
All of the cases involve children under the age of 18, and about 28 percent are under 12 months of age.
Across the United States, about 117 cases of the virus have been reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its most recent update. Most are located in Franklin County, where Columbus is located, while no deaths have been reported.
Local officials in Ohio say that the outbreak is beginning to slow.
“It could be much worse,” Mysheika Roberts, Health Commissioner for the city of Columbus, said Thursday. “I’m hoping due to our outreach in the community, and the community’s willingness to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated, that we might be starting to see the end of this. But obviously, it’ll take several weeks and days before we’ll know if this is actually over.”
Meanwhile, as compared with previous measles outbreaks, the data shows that it’s relatively tame. More than 1,200 cases were reported in the United States in 2019, and 664 cases were reported nationwide in 2014, according to the CDC. In 2020 and 2021, the CDC said there were 13 and 49 cases, respectively, reported across the country.
Measles is a virus that causes fevers and rashes, health officials said. About one in 1,000 cases can lead to inflammation of the brain known as encephalitis, which is described as a serious condition.
Notably, health officials say that it starts with a high fever, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes. The signature rash appearing three to five days after the onset of the initial symptoms.
“It is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 9 out of 10 people around him or her will also become infected if they are not [vaccinated],” the CDC states on its website. “Your child can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left.”
Current evidence suggests the natural immunity to measles gained after infection is lifelong, while a two-dose vaccine for measles wanes within 10–15 years.