2nd Case of Measles Confirmed in Pilsen Shelter, Chicago Health Officials Announce

The former industrial building at 2241 S. Halsted St. that has been converted into the city's largest shelter. (WTTW News)The former industrial building at 2241 S. Halsted St. that has been converted into the city's largest shelter. (WTTW News)

A second young child living at the shelter for migrants in Pilsen was diagnosed with a confirmed case of measles and is hospitalized in good condition, city health officials announced Sunday.

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A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is on its way to Chicago to assist the Chicago Department of Public Health respond to the apparent measles outbreak, Chicago health officials said.

City health officials asked the 1,896 residents of the former industrial building at 2241 S. Halsted St. to quarantine until it can be determined whether they are vaccinated against measles and therefore immune to the infectious disease. Those who are newly vaccinated or who are not vaccinated should remain in the shelter for 21 days, the incubation period for disease.

“We have advised all unvaccinated and newly vaccinated residents of the quarantine period but some of those residents have left the shelter, and I want to acknowledge that,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Olusimbo “Simbo” Ige said.

All Chicagoans need to be vaccinated “to protect themselves and their communities,” Ige said.

“Because of how contagious measles is, I anticipate seeing more cases,” Ige said. “Should you be exposed to someone who has measles, if you are not vaccinated you need to immediately quarantine and call a health provider. If you are not sure of your vaccination status, stay home and call your health provider as soon as possible.”

The first child diagnosed with measles, who is too young to attend school, “has recovered and is no longer infectious,” according to city health officials.

City health officials “strongly advise the unvaccinated to get the vaccine and to immediately quarantine if you have had contact with anyone with measles,” Ige said.

Before the two cases of measles were confirmed this week, 95 children between the ages of 1 and 2 were living at the shelter, said Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez, whose 25th Ward includes Pilsen.

In all, there are 11,689 men, women and children in 23 city shelters after making their way to Chicago from the southern border, according to city data. The Pilsen shelter is the city’s largest and has been the subject of repeated complaints about unsanitary conditions.

A 5-year-old boy, Jean Carlos Martinez Rivero, who had been living with his family at the Pilsen shelter, died Dec. 17 after living at the shelter for several weeks with his family. His death was caused by sepsis and other viruses, including COVID-19, adenovirus and rhinovirus/enterovirus, according to an autopsy.

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration received complaints about unsanitary and unsafe conditions at a Pilsen migrant shelter as early as late October, more than a month before the 5-year-old boy’s death focused attention on the state of the facility, according to emails first reported by WTTW News.

The case of measles announced Sunday is the third case of the highly infectious disease identified by health officials in Chicago since Thursday.

City health officials are looking for people who were at Swedish Hospital’s Galter Medical Pavilion, 5140 N. California Ave., between 8:30 a.m. and noon Feb. 27 and the No. 92 CTA bus between 9:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Feb. 27.

That case, which sickened an Indiana resident who has recovered, does not appear to have resulted in any secondary measles cases in Chicago residents.

Measles is a serious respiratory infection that is capable of leading to pneumonia and other complications. Symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes and can take from seven to 21 days to show up after exposure. Measles can be dangerous to those who are unvaccinated, especially babies and young children.

The cases of measles are the first to be confirmed in Chicago since 2019. 

Health officials said the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or the MMR vaccine, is highly effective and remains the best protection against measles.

Last year, Illinois health officials confirmed five cases of measles.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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