Chicago health authorities declare an end to the city’s measles outbreak.

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The recent measles outbreak in Chicago has officially come to an end, as confirmed by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Thursday. After a span of 42 days, equivalent to two full incubation periods for measles, no new cases have been reported. The outbreak began on March 7, 2024, when health officials in Chicago confirmed the city’s first measles case in five years. Subsequent cases emerged among children and adults at a new arrivals shelter in Pilsen, located on the lower west side of the city.

Throughout the outbreak, a total of 64 individuals in Chicago tested positive for measles, with 57 cases linked to shelters in the city. The CDPH, in collaboration with federal and local healthcare and community partners, implemented a swift response strategy. This included conducting symptom screenings for shelter residents, extensive contact tracing efforts, and isolating individuals suspected or confirmed to have measles. These proactive measures were vital in containing the outbreak and preventing further transmission within the community.

To bolster immunity and prevent future outbreaks, over 30,000 doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine were administered to Chicago residents during the outbreak. The MMR vaccine, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is highly effective in preventing measles. It is administered in two doses, with the first dose typically given between ages 12 to 15 months and the second dose between ages 4 and 6 years. Adults who are not immune to measles are also encouraged to receive one dose of the vaccine.

The MMR vaccine boasts impressive efficacy rates, with one dose being 93% effective at preventing infection upon exposure to the virus, while two doses offer 97% effectiveness. Dr. Olusimbo Ige, Commissioner of the CDPH, emphasized the importance of vaccination in preventing future measles outbreaks. Dr. Ige highlighted the safety and effectiveness of the MMR vaccine, asserting that widespread vaccination coverage is crucial in achieving the goal of eliminating measles in Chicago and beyond.

Measles was previously considered eliminated in the United States in 2000, largely due to high vaccination rates and widespread immunity. However, in recent years, vaccination rates have declined, leading to pockets of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated communities and subsequent outbreaks of measles across the country. Dr. Ige emphasized the need for continued vigilance and adherence to vaccination recommendations, particularly as travel and tourism activities increase during the summer months.

In conclusion, the declaration of the end of the measles outbreak in Chicago signifies a significant milestone in public health efforts to combat infectious diseases. The collaborative response by health authorities and community partners underscores the importance of proactive measures such as vaccination, contact tracing, and isolation in containing outbreaks. Moving forward, maintaining high vaccination coverage will be essential in preventing future outbreaks and ultimately achieving the goal of measles elimination.

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