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Chicago Grapples With Measles Outbreak

City urges residents to get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
By Bruce Japsen

THE CHICAGO Department of Public Health (CDPH) has coordinated a city-wide response to the city’s first measles cases in five years with more than 50 cases reported by early April.

Backed by a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that arrived in Chicago March 12 to support efforts to curb the spread of the highly infectious virus, public health officials intensified efforts this spring to conduct case investigations designed to identify unvaccinated people who have had encounters with exposed or infected individuals. The outbreak began on March 4 and by early April measles began to be reported in the Cook County suburbs just outside of the city.

“Those who are unvaccinated need to take precautions and if they’re exposed, quarantine immediately and connect with their healthcare provider,” said CDPH Commissioner Olusimbo ‘Simbo’ Ige, MD, MPH. “Above all else, get vaccinated so you, too, can be protected from this virus.”

Throughout the month of March and into April, public health officials focused on the source of the outbreak in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood and site of the city’s largest migrant shelter.

In early March the Department of Family and Support Services and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications worked with the state of Illinois to relocate residents of the Pilsen shelter to designated hotel spaces and other shelter locations to create more space for quarantine. About 70% of the cases reported were in children younger than the age of 4, according to CDPH data.


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