Chicago and Arizona report more measles cases

MMR vaccine vial


Two more measles cases are confirmed in an outbreak at a Chicago migrant shelter, and health officials in Arizona's Coconino County reported two new cases, one confirmed and one probable.

Illinois and Arizona are among 17 US jurisdictions that have already reported cases this year, part of a global rise in cases occurring amid vaccination gaps.

Already almost as many cases as all of 2023

At an Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) media briefing on measles today, Sarah Lim, MD, a medical specialist with the Minnesota Department of Health, said that, in the first months of 2024, the country has had almost as many measles cases as it did for all of 2023.

She said a drop in vaccination rates in the wake of the COVID pandemic gives the highly contagious measles virus the potential to trigger large outbreaks.

Joshua Barocas, MD, with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said many cases are mild, but measles can be a devastating disease, with deaths that are fully preventable. He said the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is a safe and highly effective vaccine that can help people and their communities.

"There's no shame in getting caught up now. Now is the time," he said. "We need to welcome people with open, nonjudgmental arms."

Chicago migrant center cases at 4

The two new cases at the migrant shelter in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago are both adults and bring the number of cases confirmed at the location to four, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced yesterday. The two latest patients are in stable condition.

The two earlier cases at the shelter both involved children, one of whom has recovered and another who is hospitalized and reported to be in good condition.

The CDPH said it and its health partners have assessed nearly all residents of the shelter and administered the MMR vaccine to more than 900 shelter residents. Another 700 residents were found to be immune from previous vaccination or earlier infection and are allowed to leave and enter the shelter again.

Newly vaccinated residents have been instructed to stay at the shelter for 21 days from the date of vaccination, a period when the vaccine confers full immunity.

Chicago officials had earlier reported another unrelated measles case. The five infections reported this year are the city's first in 5 years.

Coconino County, Arizona investigates new cases

In Arizona, health officials in Coconino County—home to Flagstaff—yesterday reported one confirmed and one probable measles case.

They identified five locations where people may have been exposed: three medical locations, a fitness center, and a fabric store.

Kim Musselman, MSW, the county's health and human services director, said, "Unvaccinated individuals are at highest risk of developing the disease if exposed. The best protection against measles is to receive the measles vaccine."

In February, three earlier cases were reported by Arizona officials, all in Maricopa County.

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