Central Ohio's mumps outbreak continues to grow and as of Tuesday afternoon nearly 70 cases have been confirmed in Franklin County.
Health officials warn this outbreak could last for several weeks and say now is the time to make sure you, and your children, are up to date on vaccinations.
Dr. Mysheika Williams Roberts, Assistant Health Commissioner and Medical Director with Columbus Public Health, says the mumps is a highly contagious disease, that spreads quickly and people who are infected could spread it and not even know it they have it.
“When you combine all of that, with the number of individuals who are not vaccinated, it is hard to control this disease,” says Dr. Mysheika Williams Roberts
Doctor Ali Carine is an Integrative Osteopathic Pediatrician who cares for children who, she says, need "special needs" care.
She says some of those parents prefer that their children are not vaccinated,
Carine says she continually tries to counsel them on the realities of that choice.
“My general advice for all of my families who have chosen not to vaccinate is you should never choose not to vaccinate because you are afraid the vaccine might cause harm and you think the diseases aren't present,” said Dr. Ali Carine, “Because this is a very vivid reminder that the illnesses are here and can come.”
The mumps outbreak was initially reported at Ohio State University, but has now spread throughout Franklin County and to an elementary school.
Doctor Mysheika Roberts says it’s important everyone plays a role in stopping the spread of this disease.
"I say this time and time again, we are only as strong as our weakest link, so we can all be vaccinated, but if there is one individual who is not vaccinated they put the rest of us at risk,” said Dr. Roberts
Doctor Ali Carine says she will never deny care to a child whose parent decide against the vaccine, but says she will continue to remind them of the consequences.
“Informed refusal of vaccination would include that you are OK with the chance your child will catch it,” said Dr. Ali Carine “And if you choose not to vaccinate thinking your child will never catch that disease it is probably the wrong decision .
Dr. Roberts says it's unknown how long this outbreak will last and says it's not too late to get vaccinated.
But she also says it will take several weeks for your body to build up its immunity so the sooner you get it the better.