COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — With a measles outbreak spreading around some Franklin County daycares and schools, some parents of young children are frustrated by a lack of specific information.
There are 19 confirmed cases of measles across as many as 12 day cares and schools in Franklin County, according to the county public health agency. All cases are among unvaccinated children — nine of whom have been hospitalized.
Measles is a highly contagious virus transmitted through coughing and sneezing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infected individuals can spread the virus for up to four days before becoming symptomatic. It typically takes 8 to 12 days after exposure for symptoms to develop, according to Franklin County Public Health.
Local officials said a measles outbreak like this is rare. But parents told NBC4 they want more information.
Kellie Morgan Lutzko has two young kids, a 4-year-old son and an 8-month-old daughter. She said her son has been vaccinated against the measles.
“So my big concern isn’t even really with him,” Morgan Lutzko said. “It’s about my daughter who has not had her vaccination yet because babies are too young to be vaccinated.”
She said hearing there is a measles outbreak across day care centers and schools in Columbus is concerning. But what scares her even more, she said, is not knowing exactly where those cases are coming from.
“I was a little concerned and confused as to why the information about which child care center was not disclosed to parents so we could at least have somewhat of an understanding about where it is coming from and how to avoid it,” Morgan Lutzko said.
Dr. Ben Bring, a family medicine physician with Ohio Health, said he believes the local health department usually lets the day care decide if it want its name publicized.
“I think from a public health standpoint, we have to know for contact tracing purposes who has tested positive and who hasn’t,” said Bring. “But as far as broadcasting that, you know, I think that would be something that I would keep among the day care,” Bring said.
Another concern for parents is contact tracing. Some worry because kids don’t just go to schools or daycares — they also go to playgrounds or youth groups.
Bring said that will be a top priority for the Ohio Department of Health throughout this investigation.
“That’s where this becomes super challenging is figuring out where the cases are,” Bring said.
Bring said when physicians see a measles case, they’re required to report it to the local health department. From there, the health department leads the contact tracing effort.
The CDC will also help with contact tracing when it comes to town to assist with the outbreak. Bring said for anyone who has questions about the virus, he recommends getting information from the CDC website.
In the meantime, Bring said the MMR vaccine is still the best line of defense against the virus. The CDC recommends all children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, with the first between 12 and 15 months old and the second at 4 through 6 years of age or at least 28 days after the first dose.
Bring said there are boosters available for anyone who is in a high-risk environment such as professions in health care or around kids.