Chicago Department of Public Health investigating second case of measles at Pilsen new arrivals shelter, reiterates importance of vaccination for all Chicagoans

March 10, 2024

CDPH Public Information Office:

CHICAGO - The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced Sunday a second confirmed case of measles in a resident of a new arrivals shelter in Pilsen and doubled down on its message that new arrivals and all Chicagoans need to be vaccinated to protect themselves and their communities. CDPH continued to collaborate with community and healthcare partners at the shelter this weekend to screen residents for symptoms and get them vaccinated.

An additional, unrelated measles case in Chicago was announced Thursday, and an increased number of measles cases have occurred around the country and the world in recent months due to lower vaccination coverage. Measles is a highly contagious and serious respiratory infection that causes a rash and high fever and is capable of leading to pneumonia and other complications, and can be particularly challenging for babies and young children.

“The majority of Chicagoans are vaccinated against measles and therefore are not at high risk but we are strongly urging those who aren’t vaccinated to do so as soon as possible, new arrivals and all Chicagoans. It is by far the best protection against measles, which for the first time in years is in our city,” said CDPH Commissioner Olusimbo ‘Simbo’ Ige, MD, MPH. “Because of how contagious measles is, I anticipate seeing more cases. Should you be exposed to someone who has measles, if you are not vaccinated you need to immediately quarantine and call a health provider. If you are not sure of your vaccination status, stay home and call your health provider as soon as possible.”

The two cases of measles among new arrivals were identified in young children. The first case has recovered and is no longer infectious while the second is hospitalized in good condition. Case investigations are underway to ensure those the two may have come in contact with while infectious are informed and vaccinated.

All Chicagoans are encouraged to review their immunization records or contact their healthcare provider to make sure they are up to date on the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Immunization records recorded in the Illinois immunization registry can be accessed using the Illinois Department of Public Health Vax Verify portal.

Teams from CDPH and healthcare partners including Cook County Health, Rush University Medical Center and the University of Illinois-Chicago have been on site all weekend at the Pilsen shelter screening all residents for symptoms and vaccination status, and administering vaccines as needed. A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also coming to Chicago to assist with the response.

Residents of the Pilsen shelter who have previously been vaccinated will be able to enter and exit at their own discretion while those who have not been vaccinated or have just been vaccinated in recent days will have to quarantine for 21 days (from the date of vaccination) and watch for symptoms.

“We have advised all unvaccinated and newly vaccinated residents of the quarantine period but some of those residents have left the shelter, and I want to acknowledge that,” Dr. Ige said. “That is why we so strongly advise the unvaccinated to get the vaccine and to immediately quarantine if you have had contact with anyone with measles.”

The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) has secured increased meal services for those who will have to stay on site at the Pilsen shelter.

Most Chicagoans are routinely vaccinated in childhood and therefore not at high risk. MMR vaccine is available at most doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Illinois children as young as 7 years old can get vaccinated at pharmacies under Illinois law. CDPH Immunization clinics provide MMR vaccine for no out-of-pocket cost to any child 0–18 years and uninsured adults 19 and older. For more information on measles please visit the CDPH web site.

On Thursday, CDPH confirmed another, unrelated case of measles in a Chicago resident, the first case identified in a Chicagoan since 2019. The source of the infection is unknown at this time and the infectious period for the Chicago resident ended on March 6. The individual is recovering well at home.

No link has been identified between this case and a measles case in an Indiana resident who had visited Chicago last month. That case did not result in any secondary measles cases in Chicago residents.

While cases of measles are exceedingly rare in Chicago due to high vaccination coverage from childhood, reports of measles cases have been increasing recently internationally and in the United States. A first dose of the MMR vaccine is recommended at 12 months of age and a second at 4 to 6 years of age, but it is never too late to get your MMR vaccine if you haven't already.

CDPH offers MMR vaccinations at no cost for uninsured adults and children eligible for the Vaccines For Children program at our various health clinics around Chicago. Adults who aren't sure if they're vaccinated against measles should contact their health care provider. For more information about measles and how you can protect yourself, visit the CDC website.

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