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Measles Outbreak in Ohio, U.S.

A measles outbreak has infected more than 80 children in the midwestern state of Ohio, U.S., as of Friday, December 16, 2022.


Per the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the outbreak can be traced back to one of four cases over the summer. All individuals had recently traveled to measles-endemic countries.


Experts believe vaccination gaps are a probable cause of the sudden spread. Last month, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a press release stating measles vaccinations have continuously declined since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.


“In 2021, there were an estimated 9 million cases and 128,000 deaths from measles worldwide. Twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks.”, they said.


Measles is a highly contagious virus that leads to mild to severe complications, ranging from ear infections to hospitalization and pneumonia. According to the CDC, one child out of every 1,000 infected can develop encephalitis (brain swelling). Encephalitis can cause convulsions, leaving a child deaf or with mental impairments. As reported by the CDC, measles is dangerous, especially for young children and babies.


In Ohio, there are currently 81 confirmed cases, reported by the City of Columbus Measles Public Report. All are under 18 years of age, with 67% of patients being children ages 1-5. Of the 81 cases, all but five are unvaccinated with the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. Three of the infected are partially vaccinated, meaning they’ve received one of two doses of their MMR vaccine.


Last month, an unnamed local childcare facility in the state saw four confirmed cases. All were children with no travel or vaccination history, as reported in a press release by the city of Columbus Public Health. The CPH and Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) are conducting contact tracing on the four individuals. The daycare was shut down until further notice. 


Symptoms of the virus begin 7-14 days after infection. High fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and rash are among the most common physical symptoms of the disease. Droplets released by the coughs and sneezes of infected individuals, close contact, and contaminated surfaces are among some ways the virus spreads.


WHO reports routine vaccination for children and immunization campaigns in countries with higher infection rates are among the most effective prevention methods.


The Measles and Rubella Initiative, a global partnership launched in 2001 led by several renowned international healthcare institutions, including WHO and the CDC, is taking steps to stop the spread of measles. 


“The Initiative helps countries to plan, fund, and measure efforts to stop measles and rubella for good.”, WHO said.

For more information on the measles virus, symptoms, and prevention, visit WHO's website.

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