An outbreak of measles in the state of Ohio was first reported in early November and resulted in 85 cases. Now, officials have announced that the outbreak has ended.
The outbreak spread quickly among children who were not vaccinated against the disease in November and the beginning of December, with new cases slowing at the end of the month.
In the US, over 90% of children have received an MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Measles was eliminated in 2000, but in recent years, there have been outbreaks in communities with low rates of vaccination.
After the first dose at age 12 to 15 months, the MMR vaccine is 93% effective at preventing measles. After the second dose at age 4, this rises to 97% effectiveness.
Most of the cases in this outbreak were reported in children aged 5 or younger. In total, there were 36 hospitalisations, but there were no deaths.
As there have been no new cases in the last 42 days, which is the equivalent of two incubation periods for a measles infection, local health officials have confirmed the end of the outbreak.
In a post on Twitter last week, Columbus health officials commented: “This milestone fits the CDC’s definition of the end of an outbreak, however, we still have test results pending for suspected cases.”
Officials were quick to keep the public informed at the beginning of the outbreak, which is essential to stop it from spreading among young children.
According to Dr Mysheika Roberts, health commissioner for the city of Columbus, who led the outbreak response: “In addition, we’ve had family members of individuals who have been infected with measles who have been very vocal and said they made a mistake – they should have gotten their child vaccinated. And I think that has helped as well.”
The CDC adds on its website: “While we expect importations of measles cases into the United States to continue, the risk for measles for the majority of the population would still remain low. That is because most people in the United States are vaccinated against measles.”