First measles case in Illinois since 2019 confirmed in Cook County

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The first measles case reported in Illinois since 2019 has been confirmed in Cook County, the Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday, noting the case is a reminder of the importance of the measles vaccine.

The suspected case was reported on Oct. 10 by the Cook County Department of Public Health and confirmed the next day by IDPH. The case involved an unvaccinated person with exposure internationally, according to IDPH.

“The case’s rash onset was identified as Oct. 9; therefore, the infectious period would be between Oct. 5 through Oct. 13,” IDPH said in a statement. “Prior to this case, the last measles case in Illinois was identified in 2019.”

The department noted that most people are routinely vaccinated in childhood and are not at high risk. Those who have not been vaccinated and think they were exposed should check with their doctor about vaccination.

“This first reported case of measles in Illinois since 2019 is a reminder that this disease can be prevented with up-to-date vaccination,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra in a statement. “Two doses of measles vaccine are 97% effective in preventing measles. However, as we saw this week, it still can affect those who are unvaccinated. I urge everyone to make sure they and their family members are up-to-date on measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations.”

Symptoms of measles, according to IDPH, include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes and can take seven to 21 days to show up. Anyone who develops symptoms of measles should call or email their doctor before going to a doctor’s office or hospital to prevent spread.

“This is a good reminder to everyone to talk to their healthcare providers to make sure they and their loved ones are up to date on their vaccinations,” said CCDPH Chief Operating Officer Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck in a statement. “According to the CDC, one dose of MMR vaccine is 93% effective against measles and two doses are 97% percent effective, if exposed.”

IDPH noted measles can “cause serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Measles is easily spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. People can also get sick when they come in contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person.”

More information about measles can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s webpage on measles or the CDC’s measles site.


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