CDC sending team to Chicago to help respond to city's 1st measles cases since 2019: CDPH

Five cases in total have been confirmed by city officials as of Monday.

March 11, 2024, 6:11 PM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sending a team to Chicago to help respond to the first measles cases detected in the city since 2019, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) confirmed to ABC News, as more people contract the virus.

Five cases of the highly infectious disease have been confirmed over the last week, with the latest two confirmed by the CDPH on Monday

The CDC confirmed to ABC News a team is being sent to the city and is expected to arrive Tuesday.

"CDC is sending a team of experts to support the local response to the recent measles cases with arrival expected tomorrow," a spokesperson told ABC News on Monday. "CDC continues to recommend the safe and effective MMR vaccination as part of the routine immunizations schedule for all children and adults, with special guidance for international travel. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available."

Two additional measles cases were confirmed in adults at a new arrivals shelter in Pilsen, the CDPH said in a release Monday. Both are in stable condition.

It comes after cases were previously detected in two children at the shelter, according to city health officials. The first pediatric patient recovered and is no longer infectious while the second pediatric patient is hospitalized in good condition, according to the CDPH.

The fifth, unrelated case occurred in a Chicago resident whose source of infection is unknown but whose contagious period ended March 6, health officials said.

PHOTO: The measles virus, transmission microscopy view.
The measles virus, transmission microscopy view.
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The CDPH said it is now doubling down on its message to all Chicagoans, including those at the new arrivals shelter, to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their communities.

In its Monday release, the health department said it partnered with city and health care agencies to assess nearly all residents at the Pilsen shelter. The CDPH said officials successfully vaccinated more than 900 shelter residents with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and that more than 700 shelter residents were assessed and found to be immune from previous vaccination or infection.

"Those who are newly vaccinated were instructed to remain at the shelter for 21 days from date of vaccination, which is when the vaccine confers full immunity," the CDPH said in its release.

The CDC currently recommends two doses of the MMR vaccine, with the first dose given between ages 12 to 15 months and the second dose administered between ages 4 and 6. Adults are eligible to receive one dose of the vaccine if they are not immune.

The MMR vaccine is required to attend Chicago Public Schools, but parents are allowed to seek exemptions for religious reasons, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

CDPH Commissioner Olusimbo "Simbo" Ige said recently that the risk to most people is low because the majority of Chicagoans are vaccinated against measles, but urged those who aren't vaccinated to do as soon as possible.

The vaccine "is by far the best protection against measles, which for the first time in years is in our city," Ige said. "Because of how contagious measles is, I anticipate seeing more cases. Should you be exposed to someone who has measles, if you are not vaccinated you need to immediately quarantine and call a health provider. If you are not sure of your vaccination status, stay home and call your health provider as soon as possible."

PHOTO: A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Sept. 30, 2014.
A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Sept. 30, 2014.
Tami Chappell/Reuters, FILE

The CDPH said teams are being directed to other new arrival shelters across Chicago to provide MMR vaccinations and to help mitigate the spread of the disease.

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States. in 2000, but pockets of unvaccinated or undervaccinated communities have led to sporadic outbreaks over the last several years.

As of March 7, 2024, 45 measles cases have been reported in 16 states -- California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington -- according to the CDC.

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