Measles Outbreak Hits Illinois

Growing measles outbreak hits Illinois day care center.  Test results positive for the contagious viral illness were reported from a Palatine children’s learning center on Thursday, February 5.  The Cook County Department of Public Health provided details here.  The positive test results followed earlier reports of another patient, possibly an adult, testing positive for measles on January 27.  The earlier report was also located in Chicago’s northwest suburbs.

Measles can be a fatal illness if it accompanied by complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and brain inflammation (encephalitis).  Approximately 1 of every 1,000 cases of juvenile measles
progresses to encephalitis.  Parents continue to be strongly encouraged to have their young children vaccinated with MMR vaccine at age 12 months for measles, mumps and rubella.  While many people have turned a blind eye up until now toward the growing phenomenon of unvaccinated U.S. children, outbreaks of measles throughout the United States (including Disneyland) in 2014-15 have led to many medical professionals discouraging parents from presenting their children for health care and treatment with them until vaccinations take place on schedule. 

At the same time, many parents are concerned about what they see as bullying nudges from “the system” to vaccinate their children.  The child vaccination schedule approved by many public health experts is now much more complicated and time-consuming than many parents remember when they were children.

Unfortunately, persons who have not yet been vaccinated for a disease can become carriers and can infect others.  Widespread refusal to vaccinate adults and young children with measles can create a dangerous situation for infants who have not yet reached an age where they can be safely vaccinated.  The five infants infected in the Palatine outbreak are all reported to have not yet reached their first birthday. 

Because measles is an extremely contagious viral disease, persons who suspect they have measles, and parents of persons who are suspected to have measles, should know whether or not they have been vaccinated.  If they have not yet been vaccinated, public health experts urge them not to present themselves at places where young children are being cared for or where health care is provided.  They should describe their symptoms to a health care provider by telephone, wireless, or Internet, and follow advice and instructions.  Symptoms of measles include fever, red and sore eyes, runny nose, cough, and a visually characteristic rash.  Images of the rash can be seen by researching the disease online.