2 adults diagnosed with measles at Pilsen migrant shelter, bringing total Chicago cases to 5

Tuesday, March 12, 2024
2 more measles cases at migrant shelter brings total in Chicago to 5
A measles outbreak at a Pilsen migrant shelter in Chicago has a team from the CDC coming to the city to help with the response.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two adults at a Pilsen migrant shelter have been diagnosed with measles, bringing the total numbers of cases in the city to five, the Chicago Department of Public Health said.

It is the same shelter where a 5-year-old boy, who died in December, was staying.

This information comes after paramedics arrived at the shelter for new arrivals on Halsted Street on Monday, and the Chicago Fire Department confirmed a sick toddler was taken to the hospital. Further information on that child's condition was not immediately available.

"There's 100 children there that are between the ages of 1 and 1 that are really at risk," said volunteer Annie Gomberg. "It's very possible that in the unvaccinated population in close quarters, we're going to see tens or dozens of cases."

At least five people citywide and four people, including two young children, at the shelter have been diagnosed with measles since last Thursday.

Officials said the second reported case at the migrant shelter on Halsted Street involves a child who attends a Chicago Public Schools school.

CDPH officials said the infected child is in the hospital in good condition, and CPS officials advised families at the shelter to keep their school-aged children out of school on Monday as a precaution as experts continue to stress vaccinations.

"It's a call for again for people who have not been vaccinated to go out and get their vaccination," said infectious disease expert Dr. Damilola Adeyemi. "We just need to confirm people's vaccination status, vaccinate them, and anybody who is infected make sure that they are not around people who are not vaccinated."


2nd child at Pilsen migrant shelter diagnosed with measles is a CPS student; city marks 3rd case

The first child diagnoses with measles at the shelter has recovered and is no longer infectious. The two adults are stable, CDPH said.

Workers with the SW Collective brought food the the residents on Monday and told ABC7, as health ambassadors, they have been concerned about a lack of health screenings and access to care for the new arrivals.

"Of things that should be addressed as soon as possible, and we are not doing that we are letting people fall through the cracks," said SW Collective Health Ambassador Maria Perez.

Jamie Groth Searle is also a health ambassador.

"It could have been avoided had people been screened before they went into a large population like that," Searle said.

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be sent to Chicago to help with the measles response at the Pilsen migrant shelter.

Adeyemi said those who have received the measles vaccine as a child have lifelong protection, but those that haven't are at risk of contracting the very contagious virus.

"The measles virus is very contagious," Adeyemi said. "If somebody was infected with measles, coughs, sneezes in any area, it can hang up in the air for the next two hours," Adeyemi said. "The people who are infected can infect up to 90-percent of people that are exposed to that are not immune."

Residents recently vaccinated have been encouraged to quarantine at the shelter for 21 days. The commissioner of the CDPH said that although warnings were put in place, some residents have left the shelter.

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, who represents the 25th Ward, said he was at the shelter Sunday night and Monday. He said the food contractor is not providing enough food and milk to the families.

"The food is horrendous. It's horrendous. It must change," Sigcho-Lopez said.

Sigcho-Lopez said despite the shelter's population being 95% vaccinated as of Sunday night, the conditions are unacceptable.

"If we don't address this how are we going to ask people to stay when they can not eat inside, when they can not work," Sigcho-Lopez said.

The mayor's officer was warned about the lack of safety protocols. Earlier Monday, Mayor Johnson urged all Chicagoans to make sure they are protected against measles.

"I'm encouraging every single Chicagoan who either does not know their status or has not gotten the vaccine for measles, that they should do that. Our immunity is better equipped to prepare to respond to this if we're all vaccinated," Johnson said.

Johnson said city health officials are working around the clock to combat and contain the measles outbreak.

"We're going literally floor to floor with partners, encouraging migrants to get vaccinated. There are some individuals, whether you're a migrant or not - people who have some hesitancy, some reticence about it," Johnson said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said they are providing quarantine units for shelters and it is now "also making the state triage center at the landing zone available as a vaccination site," meaning when migrants arrive, they can be vaccinated immediately.

The CDC 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.