Child at Pilsen migrant shelter diagnosed with measles in second Chicago case in 24 hours, CDPH says

Saturday, March 9, 2024
Child staying at Chicago migrant shelter diagnosed with measles
A Chicago measles case was diagnosed in a child staying at a migrant shelter in Pilsen, Chicago Department of Public Health officials said.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A second case of measles was diagnosed in Chicago in less than 24 hours, this one involving a child living inside a Pilsen migrant shelter.

CDPH officials say the young child infected with the measles has recovered and is no longer infectious.

An investigation is underway to determine who the child may have come into contact with while contagious

Part of that requirement is that everyone who is not vaccinated against measles in the shelter in the 2200-block of South Halsted Street must stay until they are screened.

Health officials are concerned this could grow into an outbreak.

"Measles is the most easily spread common infectious communicable disease besides the common cold and much more serious," said former Chicago Assistant Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Ehrman.

Ehrman joined local organizations in meeting with city leaders to try to get a better handle on protecting the health of these new arrivals. But he and police station response tier volunteer Annie Gomberg said they saw this coming because safety protocols are lacking.

"This is exactly the sort of thing we predicted," Gomberg said. "Many times, and we told the mayor's office many times, it was a matter of time."

Gomberg has volunteered at several shelters around the city and said not enough is being done to check the vaccination records of each individual.

"They are doing observation checks. They have a questionnaire. They're making sure there aren't major medical issues with new arrivals," she said.

Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez, who represents the 25th Ward, said there are 1,876 people living there, including 95 toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2.

"This is a matter of public health it concerns every Chicagoan it concerns every resident to make sure the kids are," he said.

Ald. Sigcho Lopez said the health screenings of new arrivals should be done by the states at the landing site to avoid vaccine hesitancy, which he said is a reality for some.

"Unfortunately without this being a precaution at the landing zone, and when this is not a precaution at the points of entry, we always have higher risks," he said.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said vaccination teams were on site at the shelter Friday, adding, "A case investigation is underway to ensure those they may have come in contact with while infectious are informed and vaccinated. No other cases have been identified."

This is the second case in Chicago. The investigation is on to identify anyone who may have been exposed to the first patient on the North Side.

That patient went to Swedish Hospital's Galter Pavilion in the 5100-block of North California, last Tuesday to seek care.

The patient also rode the number 92 Foster CTA bus, between 9 and 11:30 a.m. That person is now recovering at home.

"Measles is highly contagious," Dr. Jonathan Pinsky of Endeavor Edward Hospital said. It can be spread very quickly, so it can take only one case to cause a massive outbreak."

CDPH, the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) and other City agencies began assessing the vaccination status of all residents of the shelter Friday morning.

They also secured increased meal services for those who will have to stay on site.

The health department is also delivering additional masks and other personal protective equipment for residents and staff.

Dr. Pinsky said the best way to protect yourself right now is to vaccinate.

"Measles is highly contagious," Dr. Pinsky said. "For those who don't have immunity, up to 80 percent of people will get infected after an exposure but if you are fully immunized, vaccinated or born before 1957, the chances of getting an infection are very low."

Measles is making a comeback because of vaccine hesitancy health officials said.

In the first two months of this year, there were 41 cases in the U.S. All of last year, there were only 58.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children get two doses of the MMR vaccine.

That first dose is given ages 12 to 15 months. The second dose between the ages of 4 and 6.

Adults are also eligible to get one dose of the vaccine, if they're not already immune.