Measles outbreak Chicago affects students at 2 CPS schools; state moves exposed migrants to hotels

CDPH says 10 total measles cases have been identified, 8 in Pilsen migrant shelter

Thursday, March 14, 2024
Chicago measles outbreak case total rises to 10; 2 are CPS students
The measles outbreak in Chicago case count has risen to 10 total, 8 of which are in a Pilsen migrant shelter. Two of those children are CPS students.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city and state are working to combat a measles outbreak in Chicago after even more cases were identified at a Chicago migrant shelter Tuesday.

There are now 10 confirmed measles cases in the city. Eight are at the Pilsen Pilsen migrant shelter on Halsted Ave. Ten total cases have been identified citywide since last week, but two cases are not related to the new arrivals.

Two of the cases are in Chicago Public Schools students, CPS confirmed. The students attend Philip D. Armour Elementary School and Cooper Dual Language Elementary Academy. One of those cases was identified over the weekend, though which school they attended had not yet been released.

Students at those schools and their families should be aware that they are at risk for measles exposure and be aware of the symptoms so they can monitor for infection.

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

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.

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State officials are moving families who have been exposed to measles from shelters to unnamed hotels, specifically pregnant women and babies who are not able to be vaccinated. Babies are recommended to get their first dose of the measles vaccine when they are 12 to 15 months old, according to the CDC.

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

Officials said moving the migrants out of the shelter would allow them to be property isolated and quarantined, especially from other new arrivals that may not be able to receive a measles vaccination at this point. Officials also made sure to note that the virus had not arrived with the migrants, but had already been circulating in the city and resulted in at least one case that has no connection to asylum seekers at all.

"Our IDPH is working very closely, assisting CDPH Chicago Public Health Department to address the challenges at the shelters as well as across the city to make sure that we're providing more and more vaccinations for people who may not have already been vaccinated," Gov. JB Pritzker said.

CDPH Director Dr. Olusimbo Ige urged everyone to take this preventive measures especially those around children too young to be vaccinated.

What are measles, and how is measles spread?

Measles is a highly contagious virus, which can cause serious symptoms that can lead to pneumonia and other potentially life-threatening complications, but it is preventable with vaccination.

People who aren't vaccinated against the virus can get sick if they breathe in contaminated air or touch a surface that someone infected with the measles has touched. It can linger in the area where someone has sneezed or coughed for about an hour or two, research shows.

People who are infected can spread measles about four days before and four days after developing a rash that is a trademark of the virus, the CDC says.

The illness can be particularly difficult for babies and young children.

What are symptoms of measles?

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

According to the CDC, measles symptoms first show seven to 14 days after infection. Measles typically starts with a mild to moderate fever, along with a runny nose, a cough, and red and watery eyes. Some people also have stomach problems.

Two to three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots called Koplik spots may appear inside the mouth. Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash appears. The rash typically begins with flat red spots on the face at the hairline and then spread downward along the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet, the CDC said.

Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots, and they may join together as they spread across the body. When the signature measles rash appears, fever may spike to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. High fevers may require emergency medical attention.

How long does the measles vaccine last and do I need a measles booster?

Most people in the US get a series of two measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shots in childhood. When it comes to preventing illness after exposure, the vaccine is considered more than 95% effective with a single dose and 97% effective after a second dose.

As in past situations, health care providers need to recognize that "we may have under-vaccinated people who are settling in communities, and we need to watch out for infectious threats," she said.

Measles is considered a disease that was eliminated from the US in 2000, but cases have been popping up across the country. An outbreak in Florida last month included several cases linked to children at an elementary school.

About 92% of US children have been vaccinated against MMR by age 2, according to a 2023 report from the CDC - below the federal target of 95%.

The percentage of kindergartners who got their state-required vaccines for measles also remained below the federal target for the 2022-23 school year, according to CDC data. And the rate of vaccine exemptions for children has reached the highest level ever reported in the US.

Children should get two doses of the MMR vaccine, according to the CDC: the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at 4 to 6 years of age.

Before the nation's measles vaccination program, about 3 million to 4 million people got the virus every year, and about 400 to 500 died.

Adults only need to be vaccinated against measles if they never received the MMR or MMRV vaccine as children. If you have had and recovered from measles, you are considered immune to the virus. The CDC does not recommend measles boosters during an outbreak.

The MMRV vaccine protects against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox) and is only available for children between the ages of 12 months through 12 years.

Health officials warn of possible measles exposure

Meanwhile, Cook County Health is notifying patients, visitors, and staff about possible measles exposure connected Chicago cases, which involved 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.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report