More measles cases detected in Illinois, New York as US total climbs to 64

Toddler boy with measles


Over the weekend, public health officials in Illinois and New York identified three more measles cases.

In Illinois, Will and Lake counties documented one case each of the vaccine-preventable illness, both related to the ongoing outbreak in Chicago. No details on the Will County case have been released, but Lake County officials warn of possible exposures to the patient at a restaurant in Lake Zurich and a medical center in Libertyville.

Chicago has reported 4 new cases, pushing its total to 26, most linked to a migrant shelter, with 19 occurring in children 4 years and younger and 6 in adults aged 18 to 49.

New York case involves unvaccinated child

The New York case involves an unvaccinated young child living in Nassau County who has been hospitalized. The case was the third reported in the state and the first outside of New York City this year, the New York State Department of Health said in a March 23 news release.

In January, the department announced an investigation into a Nassau County midwife who delivered fraudulent measles vaccines and falsified vaccination records for nearly 1,500 schoolchildren in 23 New York counties, including several hundred in Nassau County, going back at least to the 2019-20 school year.

According to media reports, the pseudo vaccines consisted of homeopathic pellets. The midwife was fined $300,000 for risking the children's lives. In 2019, New York ended a religious exemption to vaccine requirements for schoolkids.

In an update late on March 22, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 6 more measles cases, bringing the 2024 total so far to 64, compared with 58 in all of 2023. So far this year, cases have been documented in 17 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. Most infections have occurred in children 1 year or older who hadn't received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Two of the US cases were reported last week in Washtenaw County, Michigan, where authorities announced a second case in an adult without measles immunity exposed to the county's index case.

Two new detections in Hong Kong

The Centre for Health Protection in Hong Kong on March 22 reported two measles infections, one in a man who had traveled to Indonesia and one in a 2-year-old girl who had visited Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles, and one dose is roughly 93% effective.

The US CDC recently amended its measles vaccination recommendations for international travelers, urging people who are unsure of their vaccination status to consult their doctors at least 6 weeks before travel. The previous recommendation was 1 month before travel to allow vaccination, if needed.

The US outbreaks are part of a global increase in cases fueled partly by MMR vaccination gaps. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles, and one dose is roughly 93% effective. The CDC recommends that children receive two doses of the MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months and a second dose at 4 to 6 years.

Measles, a very contagious viral disease, typically begins with a cough, nasal congestion, red eyes, and fever, followed by the development of a red rash that starts at the head and spreads throughout the body. The infection can lead to pneumonia, swelling of the brain, and death.

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