A measles outbreak in Central Ohio has infected 82 patients under the age of 18 with nearly 40% of the children, 32, needing to be hospitalized, according to reports.
The outbreak in Franklin County marks the first time a case has been reported in the area in 20 years, Axios reported.
Franklin County’s 82 cases make up the bulk of the nation’s 117 reported cases.
The majority of the cases were in babies younger than 1 to 5-year-olds who had not yet been vaccinated.
None of the children had been fully vaccinated against the highly contagious disease, which includes a fever, runny nose and rash but can also lead to complications.
“Measles can be serious,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. “Children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are more likely to suffer from complications. Common complications are ear infections and diarrhea. Serious complications include pneumonia and encephalitis.”
A child must be at least 1 to get the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination and 28% of those infected reportedly weren’t old enough to receive it.
The outbreak was thought to have spread as a result of four unvaccinated people returning to the area from counties where measles is prevalent, Mysheika Roberts, Columbus’s public health commissioner told Axios.
“In the year 2000, measles was declared gone from the United States,” Charles Patterson, Clark County Combined Health District Health Commissioner told The Hill. “Unfortunately, we are starting to see it back now and that’s a huge problem because of the reduction in vaccines that are out there.”
Local health officials are encouraging Ohioans to get the MMR vaccine, which experts say is 97% effective.
“Measles is a very contagious and serious illness,” the Columbus City Health Department says on its website. “The MMR vaccine is safe and highly effective at preventing measles. MMR vaccines are available at Columbus Public Health during regular vaccine clinic hours and at Franklin County Public Health by appointment only. Children also can get MMR vaccines from their pediatrician or medical home.”
No deaths have been reported.