The measles outbreak raises concerns in Chicago, especially for migrants

Chicago is contending with a measles outbreak, reporting 12 confirmed cases, with 10 linked to the city’s largest migrant centre, sparking concerns about healthcare for migrants and potential stigmatization.

This outbreak illuminates the challenges faced by public health systems in tackling highly contagious diseases, particularly in settings with vulnerable populations.

Chicago Health Commissioner Simbo Ige clarified that the initial measles case this year in the city was unrelated to the shelter, emphasising that the infection spread due to measles circulating in Chicago.

The spread of the disease is alarming, given the national context of a measles outbreak. Last week, measles cases were discovered at a Pilsen shelter, where around half of the 900 residents lacked measles vaccinations. Those recently vaccinated are now in quarantine to halt further transmission.

Understanding Measles Transmission and Symptoms

Measles, an airborne virus with a high contagion rate, can linger in the air for up to two hours, posing a risk to anyone entering the vicinity. Virus particles from the coughs or sneezes of infected individuals can spread the disease, and children can contract measles by touching contaminated surfaces and then their faces.

Parents must recognise measles symptoms, which typically appear one to two weeks after exposure. Symptoms include cough, red eyes, runny nose, high fever, tiny white spots in the mouth, and a rash starting at the hairline and spreading across the body.

Prevention and Immunisation

The measles Immunisation protocol involves two doses of the vaccine, recommended for children aged 12–15 months, and a booster between four and six years. Adults usually don’t require boosters unless facing a community outbreak.

Consulting a healthcare provider to verify vaccination records is advisable for parents unsure of their child’s status, as receiving additional vaccinations poses no harm, according to Jennifer Duchon, an expert in paediatric infectious diseases.