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Lake County reports first measles case as Chicago outbreak rises to 17

Lake County health officials confirmed the first case of measles in the county Saturday, as the number of cases in Chicago continues to climb after an outbreak mostly among unvaccinated migrants.

County health officials say the case is connected to the outbreak in Chicago, which is now at 17 confirmed cases mostly concentrated in the largest city-run migrant shelter located on the city’s Lower West Side. Of the confirmed cases, 11 are children under the age of 5.

Most Americans up to date on vaccinations are protected against measles. Lake County officials encouraged parents to vaccinate young children and babies, who are at a higher risk for the disease.

“The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is extremely effective at preventing measles and remains by far the best protection against measles for people of all ages. However, measles is highly contagious and can be dangerous to those who are unvaccinated, especially babies and young children,” the Lake County Health Department said in a statement.

In response to the migrant shelter outbreak, the City of Chicago has vaccinated around 4,000 migrants, many of whom traveled from Venezuela, where a frail healthcare system and economy meant many were not vaccinated against measles. Since the outbreak, Chicago Public Schools confirmed that at least two students at district schools developed measles.

The first measles case in Chicago in five years was detected on March 7. The origin of that case is unknown, health officials said.

aguffey@chicagotribune.com