3 more measles cases reported at Chicago migrant shelter, CDC team arrives to help contain outbreak

Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Chicago migrant shelter up to 7 confirmed measles cases
Chicago health officials confirmed another 3 measles cases at a Pilsen migrant shelter, bringing the total to 7.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Our coverage of this story has moved here.

Three more cases of measles have been identified at a Chicago migrant shelter Tuesday, city health officials confirmed.

The shelter in Pilsen has been the epicenter of an expanding outbreak since last week.

The highly contagious illness is spreading rapidly at the crowded migrant shelter in Pilsen. The three additional cases bring the shelter's total to seven measles cases. Eight have been identified citywide since last week, but one case is not related to the new arrivals.

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived Tuesday to help local health officials manage the outbreak and administer further vaccines. Public health officials said they are also screening and offering vaccinations to migrants as they arrive at the city's landing zone.

"They're taking action by vaccinating them. They're taking action by screening them, but we're a little bit too late. We should have been doing this from the beginning," said Maria Perez, health ambassador for Southwest Collective.

"The team we sent is everything you said, like our hybrid team with expertise in measles in the technical part as well as the communication, so there are a variety of people on the ground," said CDC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Manisha Patel.

The CDC will work with the city to help identify people who might be at risk for getting sick. They will also provide guidance and help coordinate testing and provide vaccinations at shelters across the city.

"We have, CDC has provided vaccines for the response as they need and technical support, laboratory support as well," Patel said.

The CDC recommends a 21 day quarantine for those who may have been exposed to the measles.

But some staying at the shelter said despite the quarantine, they leave to find food. They shared photos of food they said was spoiled or nothing the kids will eat. They said even the milk was expired.

A resident who did not want to be identified said the food is horrible, and she relies on donations to feed her family. Southwest Collective has been bringing food and supplies so those living at the Pilsen shelter don't have to go out in the community looking for food.

"I cannot thank them enough for their generosity, for them showing up with things all the time. I just want to thank them for the amount of donations they have brought to the Southwest Collective," said Perez.

Monday, city health officials confirmed two more adults at the Pilsen shelter have the illness.

"I'm worried about those 1,800 people," volunteer Annie Gomberg said. "There's 100 children there that are between the ages of 1-2 that really at risk (and I want to make sure they're getting the care that they need."

Doctor Manisha Patel, chief medical officer with the CDC and who is charged with measles prevention talks about the disease.

Since the weekend, about 900 measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccinations have been administered at the Pilsen shelter.

Mayor Brandon Johnson said city health officials are working around the clock to contain the outbreak.

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

Meanwhile, Cook County Health is notifying patients, visitors, and staff about possible measles exposure connected to two of the Chicago cases, which involve three Cook County Health facilities.

One of the patients was admitted to Stroger Hospital's Emergency Department on February 27.

And a second person, who later tested positive for measles, visited Arlington Heights Health Center and Cook County Health's Professional Building on March 7.