Measles confirmed in 5 babies in Palatine

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Saturday, February 7, 2015
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Five children under the age of 1 who went to the Palatine KinderCare are now confirmed to have measles.

PALATINE, Ill. (WLS) -- Five children under the age of 1 who went to the Palatine KinderCare are now confirmed to have measles, the Illinois Dept. of Public Health said Friday evening.

Officials said there are now six confirmed measles cases in Illinois, including a Cook County resident who became ill in late January.

Test results for a separate suspected case in Lake County turned up negative on Friday. Another case of measles was reported in Madison County, near St. Louis, but IDPH said it no longer considers it to be measles.

Some of the babies with measles were taken to the emergency room at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. The hospital is working with Cook County health officials to determine if anyone else at the hospital should be notified. So far, the hospital has treated three measles cases and says the recent Ebola scare helped prepare them.

"It was an interesting dry run for what we're experiencing now with measles. With these measles cases, they are present in our community, it's not a distant threat that is an airplane ride away," said Brigette Bucholz, manager for infection prevention and control at Northwest Community Healthcare.

On Friday, a KinderCare spokesperson said they are now changing their policies regarding staff vaccinations. On Monday, when the infant room re-opens, all staff members working in the room must be vaccinated, and the infant room will have limited access.

The five babies were not immunized because the measles vaccine is not available for children under 12 months. Health officials are concerned about the other infants at the Palatine KinderCare. Up to 10 are being watched and will remain at home for 21 days.

Children who attend the daycare center who are over the age of 1 are not believed to be at risk. The building was thoroughly cleaned following the diagnoses.

PHOTOS: Measles symptoms, vaccine info

A spokeswoman said KinderCare does not require children to be vaccinated. She said some parents opt out for medical or religious reasons.

"Obviously there are those of us who really believe in vaccinations, there are those that can't and there are those that won't," said Elizabeth Gharagozlou, a Palatine KinderCare parent.

Aside from opting out, children are required to have shots at public schools or state-licensed daycares.

In the meantime, there are concerns for those who are not vaccinated, and doctors are reiterating how effective the first shot is when given between 12-15 months, and the second shot between 4-6 years old.

"That first dose of vaccine provides 93 percent protection for measles exposure, the booster they get before school is really just a second safety measure," said Dr. Susan Nelson, vice president of Physician Operations at Northwest Community Healthcare.

The measles virus is transmitted through coughing or sneezing. It can remain in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.

Investigators are looking into how the cluster started in Palatine. Last week, county officials announced Illinois' first case of measles in the northwest suburbs. Heath officials do not believe that case is linked with the day care cluster.

As health officials try to pinpoint the source of the virus, parents are divided on whether families should be allowed to opt-out on vaccination requirements.

"I don't think anybody's to blame. I think it's a decision parents make for a lot of reasons. I'm glad that we did. But that's a personal decision," said Greg Piecuch, the father of a 4-year-old.

"It doesn't make no sense because they could get sick. But, like, I think everybody should get their shot," said Jose Alvarado, the father of a 1 and 3-year-old.


COMPARE: Percentage of children vaccinated in Kindergarten for measles, mumps and rubella

Illinois: 94.7 percent

Indiana: 92.9 percent

Wisconsin: 92.6 percent

National average: 94.7 percent

(according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

READ: CDC report on 1989-1990 measles outbreak in Chicago

READ: Measles cases in Illinois since 2005

SEARCH: Immunization Status of Illinois students, by school (PDF)

READ: Immunization Status of Illinois Students Report (PDF)

MORE: Illinois State Board of Education Data Analysis