Columbus measles outbreak: Cases, symptoms, vaccine information


This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting health officials with contact tracing and working with facilities.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Health officials are now investigating 32 confirmed cases of measles among children from 12 child care centers and schools in the Columbus area.

Columbus Public Health said 31 cases were with children who are unvaccinated. The vaccination status for one of the cases is unclear at this time.

According to Columbus Public Health, 63% of the cases are among kids 1 to 2 years old and 19% are among kids 3 to 5 years old.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting Columbus health officials with contact tracing and working with facilities.

Measles is very contagious. It’s caused by a virus and spreads very easily when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. It spreads so easily that someone who is not protected (either by being immunized or having had measles in the past) can get it if they walk into a room where someone with the disease has been in the past couple of hours.

Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough, conjunctivitis (red, watery eyes) and a rash all over the body. People can spread measles before they show symptoms. Symptoms usually last seven to 10 days.

If you have these symptoms, Columbus Public Health says to call your doctor or clinic to let them know about symptoms and potential exposure before going in for a visit.

How is measles treated and prevented? 

Where there is no cure, over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol can help relieve the fever that accompanies measles. Other symptoms typically disappear within two to three weeks.

Medical care can help relieve symptoms and address complications such as bacterial infections. Some measles cases require hospitalization.

Getting the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best protection against measles. The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective.

Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles; one dose is about 93% effective. When more than 95% of people are vaccinated against measles, the disease slows down and does not spread.

Those looking to schedule an appointment to get the vaccine can call Columbus Public Health at 614-645-8180 or Franklin County Public Health at 614-525-3719. Contact information for other local clinics and health centers can be found here.

Who’s eligible for the measles vaccine? 

Children should receive two doses of MMR vaccine starting with the first dose at 12-15 months of age and the second dose at 4-6 years of age or at least 28 days following the first dose.

Students at post-high school educational institutions without evidence of measles immunity need two doses of MMR vaccine with the second dose administered no earlier than 28 days after the first dose.

Adults who were born during or after 1957 and who do not have evidence of immunity against measles should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine.

People 6 months and older who will be traveling internationally should be protected against measles.

For questions, call Columbus Public Health at 614-645-1519 or Franklin County Public Health at 614-525-3791. For more information, visit Columbus Public Health’s website and Franklin County Public Health’s website.

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