COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As of Dec. 1, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is tracking 76 measles cases across the country, with central Ohio accounting for the majority of those cases.
As of Tuesday, there are 58 cases reported by Columbus Public Health; all of those cases involve children.
A local family doctor said she’s worried about the outbreak and what it means for adults.
Dr. Barbara Bawer, a family physician with Ohio State Primary Care Westerville, said many people have never had to deal with measles.
“Measles was essentially eradicated for a very long time, and I think that the concern is that a lot of people now have no idea how severe this illness could be,” she said.
Many often think of this as a childhood disease.
“Even adults who don’t have immunity or were never vaccinated, they can have a lot of complications and sometimes even more serious illness than children,” she said.
Bawer said adults and children will have symptoms like runny nose, fever, cough, and rash if they are sick with measles. However, adults can also experience more severe complications like lung infection or altered mental status.
Bawer said some, specifically older people, may experience waning immunity even though they’ve had their measles vaccine.
“Even the CDC is recommending if you’re not sure if you’ve had both doses or if you’re immunocompromised, you’re older and have a lot of medical problems, there’s no harm in getting almost like an MMR booster, or you can also ask your doctor to check whether you do still have immunity and if you don’t and if it seems to be lower, to get a vaccine again,” she said.
Like with other diseases and illnesses, Bawer said if you’re feeling sick, stay home.
“With kids, they have a fever, we keep them home, right?” she said. “Daycares don’t accept them, they tell them to stay home, so it’s almost like we can quarantine kids better than we can quarantine adults.”
NBC4 reached out to the CDC to see if it would discuss the measles outbreak in central Ohio, but did not receive a response. Columbus Public Health said a team from the CDC has been in central Ohio for the last week investigating the outbreak.