Measles outbreak rises to 12 total cases; 98 migrants exposed at Pilsen shelter quarantine at hotel

CDPH says 12 total measles cases have been identified, 10 in Pilsen migrant shelter

Friday, March 15, 2024
Measles cases reported at CPS schools; migrants quarantined at hotel
As a measles outbreak in Chicago rises, cases have been reported at the Pilsen migrant shelter, Cooper Dual Language Academy and Armour Elementary.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The number of Chicago measles cases continues to rise and two of the children are CPS students at two different schools.

There are 12 confirmed cases of measles across the city, and 10 of the cases are among migrants living at a shelter in Pilsen, the Chicago Department of Public Health said Thursday night. Six cases are in adults and six cases are in children. Two are children infected and CPS students.

Those infected students go to Cooper Dual Language Academy in Pilsen and Armour Elementary in Bridgeport and are now in quarantine.

At least 98 migrants have been taken to a Chicago-area hotel to quarantine, The Illinois Department of Human Services announced Thursday afternoon. The quarantined people are part of 26 migrant households, which include 48 children. They will quarantine at the hotel for 21 days to curb the spread of measles.

Sources tell ABC7 the hotel is located in Hyde Park, near 49th and the lakefront.

The hotel quarantine site can hold up to 110 families, IDHS said.

"All people in Illinois deserve to be treated with dignity and when a public health issue emerges, it's the responsibility of government to keep people safe," Governor JB Pritzker said in a statement. "We continue to deploy State resources when and where we can - meeting the most emergent needs as compassionately and efficiently as possible."

Chicago public health officials said unlike other students, migrant CPS students are not required to be vaccinated to attend school, under an exemption for children living in unstable housing.

But not knowing who is sick and who isn't is exactly why Zira Cardenas mom pulled her and her brother out of Cooper school Thursday. They feel like CPS officials need to be more transparent.

"The school is kinda like lying to her about what's going on inside the school cause they are saying oh people do have some and then saying they don't," Cardenas said.

"I think they should be a little more honest," Zira Cardenas said. "It makes me like, oh, I can't go close to someone and stuff because maybe they might be close to people that have it."

Dr. Shivanjali Shankaran is an infectious disease specialist at Rush University Medical Center. Rush has been treating some of the sick residents from the Pilsen shelter.

"You are contagious before the rash happens so you are contagious five days before and four days after the rash," Dr. Shankaran said.

Dr. Shankaran has not treated any of those patient with measles, but he cared for a measles patient years ago in another part of the world.

She reminds Chicagoans of potentially fatal consequences of the disease that was seen before a vaccine was available .

"Many people may have parents or grandparents who remember how things used to be and we are trying really hard not to have that happen again," Dr. Shankaran said.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Robert Citronberg with Advocate Health Care talks about the measles outbreak.

Infections disease specialist Dr. Robert Citronberg with Advocate Medical Group spoke about why more cases popping up is becoming a real concern in our area.

"We thought some years ago that measles was eradicated , but it's not, largely because there's a big proportion of the population that's not vaccinated, so we are concerned about measles," Dr. Citronberg said.

The Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner said they have not seen cases come through Chicago, and the initial health screenings at the landing zone where migrants arrive are focused on identifying symptoms and urgent medical needs.

Under CDC rules the city then has 90 days to set up more comprehensive physicals for those migrants which could include vaccinations.

Dr. Citronberg said most of us have immunity, but many still are at risk especially young children not yet vaccinated. So how can you make sure you are covered?

"There's a simple blood test called measles IGG," Dr. Citronberg said. "Your doctor can order it. Usually you get the result back in about a day or so and that tells you if you have immunity and if you're not immune and you've been exposed, you really need to get the vaccine right away because that can help prevent you from getting measles."

Of the 1,900 residents at the Pilsen shelter, officials said about a thousand had previous measles immunity, but about 900 had to be vaccinated and now must quarantine for 21 days.

The CDPH commissioner said the initial health screenings at the landing zone where migrants arrive are focused on identifying symptoms and urgent medical needs.

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.

Under CDC recommendations, the city then has 90 days to set up more comprehensive physical for those migrants which could include vaccination.

Officials said moving the migrants out of the shelter would allow them to be properly 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.