Winnetka, News

64 cases of measles — 2 in suburban Cook Country — confirmed in Illinois in 2024

(Editor’s Note: This story was reported by Margo Milanowski and originally published in the Evanston Roundtable, a neighboring independent newsroom. It was shared with The Record as part of an ongoing collaborative effort.)

The Illinois Department of Public Health has reported 64 cases of measles in 2024 (as of press time, April 16), including a second case in suburban Cook County reported on Monday, April 15. From 2020-2023, the IDPH confirmed just five cases, and all of them were in 2023.

“The community-acquired case is an unvaccinated adult resident,” the Cook County Department of Public Health press release stated about this latest confirmed case. 

The majority of measles cases in Illinois this year stem from an outbreak, which has slowed, at a shelter that houses new migrants in Pilsen. Health officials cited vaccination efforts, testing and isolation practices to contain the outbreak. The second suburban case has no connection to the outbreak.

According to the CCDPH press release, the individual in this recently confirmed case was in public and contagious between April 6 and 10 at the Super Mercado Torres in Cicero, a collar suburb to the west of Chicago.

“[People] are most likely safe from developing measles if they previously received two doses of MMR vaccine,” CCDPH Chief Operating Officer Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said in the press release. “If they are unvaccinated or experiencing symptoms of measles though, they should call a healthcare provider immediately to arrange for medical evaluation.”

The CCDPH also encouraged residents to get vaccinated, as the measles vaccine is the best way to prevent the spread.

“The MMR vaccine is safe and effective,” Hasbrouck said. “Two doses have been shown to be 97 percent effective at preventing measles. It is available at most doctor’s offices and pharmacies.”

What to look for

Anyone can be affected by measles, but children are at the highest risk. The majority of cases in Chicago’s initial outbreak were children 4 and under.

Schools in The Record‘s coverage area carry a very high measles vaccination rate; for instance, Wilmette District 39 students have a 99.9 percent vaccination rate. All students in kindergarten through 12th grade in Illinois are required to have two doses of the measles vaccine, but schools can grant exemptions for religious and medical reasons.

Measles symptoms can include rash, fever, runny nose, cough and watery eyes. Those infected can develop symptoms up to 21 days after exposure.

The CCDPH advises anyone who believes they have been exposed to measles to contact their health provider before going to a medical office emergency department to minimize risk to providers and other patients.

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