Kane health officials ready for more measles work

Updated 2/18/2015 6:07 PM

Should another adult come down with measles and expose Kane County residents to the disease, the county health department is prepared to conduct another emergency vaccination clinic, executive director Barb Jeffers said Wednesday.

Last week it offered immunizations to 200 people who had been exposed to the disease at Elgin Community College. A Cook County woman who attends the college is one of 14 confirmed Illinois cases of the disease.


Jeffers told the county board health committee that the county usually stocks measles immunizations it routinely gives to children, but had to get an adult version of the vaccine from the Illinois Department of Public Health. She praised the state for delivering the vaccine overnight.

Committee member Deb Allan of Elgin recalled a year in her childhood when measles, mumps and chickenpox swept her grade school. She questioned the point of the vaccinations.

"I am sure that was a burden on our families, but I don't remember anybody dying from it. It was just kind of what you went through as childhood," she said. So, she asked Jeffers, is the county's immunization goal "trying to save kids from having to suffer?"

Jeffers said Allan may not have been aware of anybody dying in her school, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Jeffers cited some of the complications and disabilities the disease can cause, such as meningitis.

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Committee chairman Monica Silva said the county health department isn't just concerned about the health of county residents, but that it has a "global" concern of trying to stop a disease outbreak from turning from endemic to pandemic.

"It is not going to stay local, people. You are not going to die from having measles," said Silva, a chiropractor. "But there are other countries that don't have the health resources (to treat it) that we do."

Added Jeffers, "The difference is we are a more mobile society," with people traveling more than they did in Allan's childhood. She also said there are more mass-gathering spaces, such as amusement parks and sports arenas, where the highly contagious airborne disease can be spread.

"Instead of taking the chance of 'maybe it won't happen,'" Jeffers said, "it's best to take prevention."

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