A measles outbreak that sickened 85 children has been declared over in Ohio

The measles outbreak in central Ohio that has infected 85 children has been officially declared over, Columbus Public Health announced Thursday.

“CPH has received the last pending test result, which was negative for suspected measles,” the agency said. tweeted. “We have passed 42 days, or two incubation periods, since the last rash, which meets the CDC’s definition of the end of an outbreak.”

According to CPH data, no cases have been recorded since December 24.

During the outbreak, which began in November 2022 and was seen in multiple schools and daycares, 80 of 85 infected children were unvaccinated.

Four had received at least one dose of the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) and one patient had an unknown vaccination status.

An overwhelming majority, or 65%, of cases occurred in children between the ages of 1 and 5, with children under 1 being the second most affected group.

A total of 36 children were hospitalized, but none of the sick children died.

“We had several children who required intensive care,” Kelli Newman, director of communications at CPH, told ABC News. “Most of the hospitalized cases were due to dehydration, which is common in young children like this.”

Measles is a highly contagious disease, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying each individual infected with the virus can pass it on to up to 10 close contacts, if they are not protected, especially if they are not wearing a mask or are not vaccinated.

Complications from measles can be relatively mild, like skin rashes, or they can be much more serious, like viral sepsis, pneumonia, or brain swelling.

The CDC says anyone who has had measles at some point in their life or who has received two doses of the MMR vaccine is protected against measles.

In the decade before the measles vaccine became available, about 3 to 4 million people were infected each year, 48,000 were hospitalized and between 400 and 500 people died, according to the federal health agency. health.

One dose of the measles vaccine is 93% effective in preventing infection if exposed to the virus. Two doses are 97% effective.

It is recommended that children receive their first dose between 12 and 15 months and their second dose between 4 and 6 years of age.

According to a CDC report released in January, in the 2021-22 school year, 88.3% of kindergarteners in Ohio had received two doses of the MMR vaccine, less than the national average of 93%. .

“I think this is kind of a wake-up call for all of us,” Newman said. “Although this epidemic is behind us, and we are grateful for that, we know that the next epidemic could be only a missed vaccine away.”

Newman said CPH has been spending a lot on the ground working with community partners and pediatricians to get the MMR vaccine out into the community, as well as educating about the importance of vaccination, in response to the outbreak. This included setting up special vaccination clinics and having pediatricians call parents whose children were late to remind them to bring them in for their second shot.

In 2000, measles was declared eradicated from the United States thanks to a highly effective vaccination campaign.

However, last November, a joint report by the CDC and the World Health Organization declared measles to be an “imminent threat” to the world.

The report found that in 2021 nearly 40 million children – a record – missed a dose of measles vaccine. Specifically, 25 million missed their first dose and 14.7 million missed their second dose.

The authors said much of the progress made in fighting the disease has been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the United States, a May 2022 study found that one-third of American parents reported a child with a missed vaccination due to barriers imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newman said many parents of unvaccinated children infected with measles chose not to have their children vaccinated with the MMR vaccine due to misconceptions that it causes autism, a theory that has been widely denied. in the scientific community.

“Many of these children were vaccinated against everything but MMR because there was a lingering misconception that it caused autism,” Newman said. “That’s what we heard in the feedback when we worked with the parents during the investigation of the case and so it’s something that we’ve had to provide a lot of education and engagement, and we continue to do it.”ABC News’ Eli Cahan contributed to this report.

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