No more confirmed measles cases in suburbs today

  • Public health officials are investigating a measles outbreak involving five children enrolled at the KinderCare Learning Center on the 900 block of East Palatine Road in Palatine.

      Public health officials are investigating a measles outbreak involving five children enrolled at the KinderCare Learning Center on the 900 block of East Palatine Road in Palatine. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/6/2015 9:44 PM

After a brief scare Friday, measles in a Lake County illness was ruled out and health officials said there was no increase in the number of confirmed cases in the suburbs.

Nevertheless, the regional response to Thursday's confirmed return of a long-absent disease was swift and thorough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Lake County Health Department spokeswoman Leslie Piotrowski said just after 5 p.m. Friday that tests came back negative for an illness that has been suspected of being measles in that county.

On Thursday, five infants in the Northwest suburbs were confirmed to have contracted measles. All attended KinderCare Learning Center at 929 E. Palatine Road in Palatine. Cook County and state health officials suspect that number could rise to as many as 15 cases because of other infants who were exposed, but no more cases were confirmed Friday.

Some of the babies were taken to the emergency room at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. The hospital is working with Cook County health officials to determine if anyone else at the hospital should be notified.

So far, the hospital has treated three measles cases and says the recent Ebola scare helped prepare them, ABC 7 Chicago reported.

"It was an interesting dry run for what we're experiencing now with measles. Brigette Bucholz, manager for infection prevention and control at Northwest Community Healthcare, told ABC 7. "With these measles cases, they are present in our community. It's not a distant threat that is an airplane ride away."

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With tests still pending, the Cook County Department of Public Health also could not confirm a source of the measles cluster or comment on the possibility of a link with an adult case in Palatine confirmed more than a week earlier.

Palatine Township Elementary District 15 officials were working closely with the Cook County Department of Public Health but had no confirmed or suspected cases of measles, Deputy Superintendent Matthew Barbini said.

A district communication, in both English and Spanish, was distributed to parents and posted on the district's website late Friday afternoon.

Though 29 district students received after-school care at the KinderCare location where the measles cluster was identified, all had previously been vaccinated and are free of the disease, Barbini said. Those students are spread among nine of the district's schools.

"District 15 is committed to the safety of our students, staff, parents and visitors," Barbini said. "Although (measles is) contagious, it's a very preventable disease. We're closely monitoring this because it's occurring in our backyard."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The news of measles' return to the area was raising questions for clients of medical groups in the region about both the need for new vaccinations as well as a number of general symptoms.

"Suddenly, everyone is second-guessing themselves," said Dr. Mia Taormina, chairwoman of the infection control task force of DuPage Medical Group.

The questions that were causing her phone to ring off the hook Friday ran the gamut from people wondering if they needed booster shots of the measles vaccine to a pediatrician unsure about a rash on an infant's chest.

In fact, Taormina said she's received more calls in the past two days about measles than from the earlier concerns about Ebola.

"People are considering this to be an immediate concern, an immediate threat," Taormina said.

Everyone born before 1957 is considered to be effectively immune from measles, having lived through a time when it was more prevalent, Taormina said.

Also, those born after 1971 should have received a series of two shots during childhood intended to provide lifelong immunity.

The closest thing to a gray area is the period between 1957 and 1971. But even for those born during those years, no further action is recommended unless a person belongs to a high-risk group -- either working with children or intending to become pregnant -- Taormina said.

Though there's a possibility the effectiveness of vaccinations could wane with time, the chances of this happening in any particular person are astronomically small, she added.

Though the KinderCare in Palatine was a confirmed location of the disease, a vaccinated child should be in no danger of infection there, Taormina said.

Matt Wakely, spokesman for Alexian Brothers Health System, said he wasn't aware of an influx of calls from "worried well" people at the Alexian Brothers Medical Group's physician offices Friday.

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