The measles outbreak in Ohio has now reached seven childcare facilities and one school with unvaccinated kids.
Local health officials have warned against the rapid spread of the measles virus in local daycares with unvaccinated children.
Measles is an easily preventable and highly contagious illness. However, the slipping vaccination rates allowed the outbreak to swiftly expand, Ars Technica reported.
As of Wednesday, there have been 18 confirmed measles cases from the seven daycares and one school. All cases were recorded among unvaccinated kids, and at least 15 were below the age of 4.
Kelli Newman, a spokesperson for Columbus Public Health, said that at least six of the children required hospitalization.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young kids are particularly susceptible to serious health complications brought about by the virus.
When the investigation into the outbreak started, only one childcare facility was affected, and only four kids were confirmed to have contracted the viral disease at the time.
“All the facilities are cooperating with public health, and they have notified all parents and removed all unvaccinated students out of the facility for 21 days after the last case onset,” Newman said in a statement obtained by CBS News.
The spokesperson continued, “We continue to work on contact tracing with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and with affected families. Our investigation and contact tracing [are] ongoing, and we don’t know yet where the outbreak started.”
Also called rubeola, the infection is deemed serious and even fatal for small children. Through the years, the virus has become less common due to the worldwide vaccinations against the disease.
Due to the high vaccination rates in the U.S., measles has not been widespread in the country for about two decades. But not all are getting the vaccines. Mayo Clinic reported that around 200,000 people, mostly children, still die of measles per year.
Health officials are now working on curbing the outbreak by conducting contact tracing at affected facilities and spreading awareness on measles prevention through the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
“MMR vaccines are very safe and highly effective at preventing measles. We offer walk-in MMR vaccines at Columbus Public Health Monday through Friday every week. We have not seen an uptick here on MMR vaccinations yet from what we usually do, but that is not indicative of uptake overall since we do not know what is being given by providers in the community,” Newman said.