Measles Outbreak In Illinois: 5 Babies Diagnosed, Health Officials Investigating

Public health officials confirmed a measles outbreak at an Illinois learning center this morning, according to the Chicago Tribune. Doctors diagnosed five babies with the deadly disease, all of whom attend the Palatine KinderCare Learning Center in Cook County, Illinois. All five babies are under one year old.

The report notes that state and county public health officials said lab tests confirmed only two of the diagnoses, and that the three others are still waiting for results to come in.

NBC Chicago reported that doctors diagnosed measles in the three babies pending lab results via “clinical and epidemiological criteria.” This means that the lab results could tell a different story once they come back, but given that the babies are experiencing measles symptoms alongside two confirmed cases, that makes unexpected lab results highly unlikely.

Although considered eliminated in 2000, the United States experienced a record number of measles cases in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, with 644 cases in 27 states. From January 1 through January 30, the CDC reports that doctors diagnosed 102 people in 14 different states with measles, most of whom are part of the measles outbreak that started at Disneyland in California.

Measles Outbreak in 2015

Illinois public health officials reported a confirmed case of measles in an adult in Cook County last week, although they are unsure whether it is linked to the same outbreak or not, according to NBC Chicago.

Measles is as follows, according to the CDC.

“A highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat, and is followed by a rash that spreads all over the body.”

Measles Under the Microscope

Adults and children who get measles can suffer from complications, and according to the CDC, about one in 10 do. However, adults and very young children, such as the babies diagnosed today, are much more likely than older children to experience these complications, some of which include ear infections, pneumonia, and diarrhea.

Symptoms of Measles - Rash

The CDC urges doctors to “think measles” when treating patients.

“Consider measles in patients with a fever, rash, and cough, coryza and conjunctivitis—the three ‘C’s. Ask if they are vaccinated against measles and whether they have recently traveled internationally or if there’s measles in the community.”

Coryza is a symptom of measles, which the CDC defines as “runny nose; nasal discharge.”

CBS Chicago notes that four of the five babies diagnosed with measles at the KinderCare learning center live in the suburbs, while the fifth lives in Chicago. Health officials do not yet know whether the measles outbreak is related to the case reported last week in Cook County, or whether the case is related to the Disneyland outbreak.

Health officials notified faculty, staff, and students’ parents connected to KinderCare of the measles outbreak, and stressed that those who are not vaccinated should “stay at home and away from unvaccinated people for the next 21 days.” Measles symptoms typically show within 7 to 18 days after exposure to the virus. This is the incubation period, during which time the disease is contagious and spreads, according to the CDC, and this is the reason for the 21-day warning.

Cook County health officials warn that anyone who thinks they may have come into contact with a measles outbreak to call both their personal healthcare providers and the public health department, and if seeking treatment at a doctor’s office or emergency room to call ahead so staff can prepare and “take appropriate precautions” to prevent transmission of the disease.

[Infographics and photos via CDC, Photos via Public Health Image Library/CDC]