The Center for Disease Control says there have been more than 100 cases of the measles since the beginning of 2019, with more than half concentrated in Washington state. But health officials say the outbreak is boosting vaccination and awareness (Feb. 14)
A passenger with a confirmed measles diagnosis passed through Chicago Midway International Airport on Feb. 22 − and those there that night might have been exposed.
The Illinois resident arrived in the airport’s Concourse B, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health, which is investigating the isolated case with local health departments. There is currently no ongoing risk of contracting measles at Midway, according to Chicago Department of Public Health spokesperson Anel Ruiz.
If people were at the airport between 9 p.m. and midnight Feb. 22, they could have been exposed. Those travelers are advised to contact a health care provider before heading to a medical office or emergency department.
The infected person later sought treatment at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital on Feb. 24 in the emergency department, and those there between 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. that day could have come into contact with the measles as well. Those in the hospital from 4 to 6:15 p.m. that day, as well as 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 25 could also have been exposed.
Measles symptoms could appear as late as March 20 in those infected, according to the department. Such symptoms are rash, high fever, runny nose, cough and red, watery eyes. Complications could be severe: pneumonia and encephalitis (brain swelling).
Catching the measles is simple, as people can get it by being near someone coughing or sneezing since it spreads through the air.
“Measles is highly contagious. However, two doses of measles vaccine are about 97 percent effective in preventing measles,” the Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement included in a press release. “We urge everyone to make sure they and their family members are up-to-date on measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations, especially if you are traveling to other countries where measles is regularly found. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, it protects others around you who are too young to get the vaccine or cannot receive it for medical reasons.”
Ruiz, from the Chicago Department of Public Health, also said: “Individuals at highest risk from last week’s exposure are being contacted directly. Most people are vaccinated against measles. If not, we encourage you to get vaccinated as it’s the best prevention and especially ensure you are vaccinated prior to international travel.”
Beginning Jan. 1 through Feb. 21 this year, there have been 159 confirmed cases of the measles across 10 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Midway referred USA TODAY to the Chicago Department of Public Health for comment.
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