Will County reports positive measles case linked to Chicago outbreak

A positive case of the measles was reported Saturday in Will County, according to the Will County Health Department.

The case involves an unvaccinated child linked to the Chicago outbreak, said Muneeza Azher, program manager of communicable diseases and epidemiology for the department, in a statement.

The county Health Department is working with the Illinois Department of Public Health to collect additional details to identify and notify people who may have been exposed to measles, according to a news release from the department.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and others against measles,” Azher said. “If you are not vaccinated, ask your healthcare provider to find out if you need a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.”

Chicago public health officials announced March 7 they had identified the first case of measles since 2019. Another case of the measles, a child staying at a migrant shelter on the Lower West Side, was reported the following day.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory infection that causes a rash, high fever and, in some cases, can cause serious illness in young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, according to the release.

The signs and symptoms of the measles appear 10 to 14 days after exposure, officials said, and include high fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, red or watery eyes and tiny white spots that appear inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek.

Most measles patients develop a rash consisting of small red spots that begins three to five days after other signs of the illness begin, officials said. The rash typically starts near the face and then spreads down the rest of the body.

An infected person can spread measles up to four days before the rash appears and up to four days after the rash has been present, officials said.

The MMR vaccine is 97% effective against measles when administered in two doses, officials said. Most doctor’s offices and pharmacies can provide the vaccine, officials said, and the vaccine is also available at the Will County Health Department’s immunization clinic. Residents may call 815-740-8143 for an appointment.

akukulka@chicagotribune.com