Measles case reported at Chicago’s largest migrant shelter

A child staying at a migrant shelter on the Lower West Side developed a confirmed case of measles, Chicago public health officials announced Friday. It was the second case of measles reported in the city this week.

Officials said the child has recovered and is no longer infectious. The city of Chicago is responding with a “host of resources,” a city spokesman said in a statement Friday morning.

“Those who have been vaccinated can go about their normal business while those who have not been vaccinated will have to remain indoors to watch for symptoms,” said the spokesman.

Chicago Public Schools issued a statement that said the child was not a CPS student and that all families residing at the shelter were advised to remain in place and that no school-age resident at that shelter should attend school Friday.

The site of the newly confirmed case is the most crowded shelter in the city’s web of 23 buildings currently housing over 11,600 migrants, thousands who have arrived on buses sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — many who come fleeing a failed economy and health infrastructure in Venezuela.

It is a large warehouse that has received skepticism from health advocates and volunteers helping migrants after a 5-year-old died there in December.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th, said in a statement Friday that he had just visited the shelter site on Tuesday and that his office continues to hold bi-weekly meetings with the city and shelter staff to “coordinate efforts for preventive care, vaccination, and treatment.”

“Historically, communities of color experience a lower rate of vaccinations due to generational systemic barriers, in many instances not aided or even exacerbated by government-run institutions. We understand the intersectional needs that our communities face, therefore we implore the county, state and federal government to provide immediate assistance to the city of Chicago,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “Our city continues to face a public health crisis created by the lack of support from the federal government and agencies, and all the aforementioned entities who have not stepped up to support our new arrivals mission in the same way they previously supported migrant communities’ dignified integration such as Ukrainian refugees.”

The city’s Department of Public Health is working with other city agencies to ensure all migrants at the shelter who may have come in contact with the child are informed and vaccinated. Migrants and staff who have been asked to remain in place will be given increased meal services and protective equipment.

Thursday, officials identified the first case of measles in the city since 2019 on the city’s Northwest Side. Though the source of the infection was unknown, officials said people who were at the Galter Medical Pavilion at Swedish Hospital or riding the CTA 92 Foster bus the morning of Feb. 27 may have been exposed.

That contagious period ended Wednesday.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. It is particularly dangerous to babies and young children. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or when a person comes into contact with an infected person’s mucus or saliva, according to state public health information.

Health officials say children with measles may experience unpleasant symptoms like high fever and rash. A small proportion of children can develop complications from measles that can be life-threatening, usually an infection of the lungs or brain.

Most cases of measles are related to international travel. Since 2011, there have been several confirmed cases of measles in Chicago.

Most people born in the United States are vaccinated against the disease, but city officials are urging anyone not vaccinated against measles to do so immediately.

The vaccine is available at most doctor’s offices and pharmacies. More information is available on the Chicago Department of Public Health website.

Chicago Tribune’s Caroline Kubzansky contributed.