Three more measles cases confirmed in Cook County

  • An electron microscope image of a measles virus particle, center. Measles is considered one of the most infectious diseases known. The virus is spread through the air when someone infected coughs or sneezes.

    An electron microscope image of a measles virus particle, center. Measles is considered one of the most infectious diseases known. The virus is spread through the air when someone infected coughs or sneezes. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 
 
Updated 2/10/2015 7:05 AM

Three more people in suburban Cook County have been diagnosed with measles, bringing the current total to eight, health officials said Monday afternoon.

Seven of the cases are linked to a Palatine day care center, where five infants contracted the disease last week and as many as 15 infants enrolled at the center were exposed. Health officials have said they expect more cases due to the highly contagious nature of the disease.

 

Last week's outbreak began at a KinderCare Learning Center, 929 E. Palatine Road. All of the infants were too young to be vaccinated. Before last week's outbreak, there were only 10 documented cases of measles in the last five years in Illinois.

Measles is a respiratory disease that causes fever, red and sore eyes, runny nose, cough and a characteristic rash. The disease can cause severe health complications, including fatal cases of pneumonia and encephalitis.

Colleen Moran, a spokeswoman for KinderCare Learning Centers, said last week that county health officials said the center could stay open while they investigate the source of the cluster. The day care center is working to provide officials with immunization records for children and staff, she added. Those not immunized, or whose records are not up to date, are being told to stay home.

They also have ordered anyone associated with the center who has not received the MMR vaccine to keep away from unvaccinated individuals for the next 21 days. The end of the quarantine is Feb. 24.

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Measles is transmitted by contact with an infected person through coughing or sneezing and can remain in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours. Infected people are contagious from four days before their rash starts through four days afterward.

The outbreak continues to underscore the importance of getting vaccinated, health officials said.

"The vast majority of suburban Cook County residents have been vaccinated and have a very low risk of contracting the measles," Dr. Terry Mason of Cook County's health and hospital system said last week.

• Daily Herald staff writers Doug T. Graham, Katlyn Smith, and Christopher Placek contributed to this report.

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