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Measles Outbreak Complicates Two Big Amish Events

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Image: An Amish girl gets a Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccination.
Richland Public Health nurse Renee Blankenship, left, gives Christina Martin a Measles, Mumps, & Rubella (MMR) vaccination while her brother Ed Martin and mother Linda Martin, third from right, wait to get their vaccinations at a clinic in Shiloh, Ohio, on June 25. The Martin's are Mennonites from Richland County. Health officials said Ohio’s current outbreak of measles consists of more than 360 cases and is the biggest in the U.S. since 1994.Tom E. Puskar / AP

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Visitors from around the world to two upcoming events in Ohio's Amish country could come away with more than they bargained for, health officials fear — a case of measles from the nation's largest outbreak in two decades.

The outbreak, with more than 360 cases, started after Amish travelers to the Philippines contracted measles this year and returned home to rural Knox County. From there, the highly contagious disease spread quickly because of a lower rate of vaccination among the Amish.

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Health officials believe the outbreak is slowing in Ohio thanks to vaccination clinics, door-to-door visits by public health nurses and cooperation by the Amish, who quickly quarantined themselves when measles was present. But Horse Progress Days, an international showcase of horse-drawn equipment scheduled for Friday and Saturday, is expected to draw more than 20,000 Amish and others from around the globe. And a large annual auction that raises money to help Amish families pay medical bills for children with birth defects is scheduled for Saturday.

Authorities are trying to spread education — and vaccination. The Amish religion does not prevent them from seeking vaccinations, but because their children don't attend traditional public schools, vaccinations are not required and therefore not routine. The Ohio outbreak is the biggest in the U.S. since 1994.

IN DEPTH

- The Associated Press

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