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