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Chicago reports first measles case since 2019

Chicago reports first measles case since 2019
Chicago reports first measles case since 2019 00:23

CHICAGO (CBS) ---A measles case was reported in Chicago for the first time in five years.

Measles is a highly contagious, serious airborne disease that can lead to severe complications or death.

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has identified two locations and times of possible exposure.

If on February 27th, you were at:

  • Swedish Hospital, Galter Medical Pavilion at 5140 North California Ave. in Lincoln Square between 8:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.
  • CTA bus No. 92 (Foster) between 9:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., you may have been exposed

Anyone at those locations that day should call CDPH at 312-743-7216 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be advised of next steps based on their documented immunity to measles and level of exposure.

Symptoms of measles

 After being exposed, symptoms could take from seven to 21 days to show up.

The most common symptoms include rash, high fever (104 degrees), cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), a rash can break out three to five days after symptoms begin. The rash appears in small red raised bumps. The rash typically begins on the face and neck and then spreads down the body. 

Tiny white spots may appear inside the mouth between two and three days after symptoms begin, according to the CDC. 

Measles is more contagious than COVID and flu, according to Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

According to the World Health Organization, complications can include blindness, encephalitis (an infection causing brain swelling and potentially brain damage), severe diarrhea, dehydration, ear infections severe breathing problems, including pneumonia.

Anyone who develops symptoms of measles should contact a health care provider by phone or email before going to a medical office or emergency department. Special arrangements can be made for evaluation while also protecting others from exposure.

Measles vaccinations in Chicago

The disease was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, but it has made a comeback – as vaccination rates have fallen below the 95% needed to achieve herd immunity.

In Cook County last year, four cases of measles were detected, the first since 2019. Health officials have said it was a concerning trend specifically because more schools are falling below that herd immunity threshold.

A CBS 2 analysis of state immunization data from the 2022-2023 school year shows 882 schools statewide reported vaccination rates lower than the federal recommendation of 95 percent.

"The vaccine is safe and extremely effective. If your children fell behind on vaccinations during the pandemic, it is not too late to catch up," Dr. Wallace told CBS 2. 

CPDH Immunization clinics provide MMR for no out-of-pocket cost to any child between zero and 18 years old, as well as uninsured adults. Most insurance companies are required to cover all vaccines at no cost to patients. 

Doctors recommend that most children receive their first MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine at the age of 12 to 15 months. The second dose is to be given around 4 to 6 years old. Illinois children as young as 10 can also get vaccinated at pharmacies, per state law. 

"The key to preventing measles is vaccination. If you are not vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to get the vaccine," said CDPH Commissioner Olusimbo Ige, MD, MPH in the press release.

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