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Officials warn of potential measles exposure at Midway

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Public health officials are warning of a potential measles exposure last week at Midway International Airport.

An infectious, unvaccinated Illinoisan flew into Concourse B at Midway on Friday night, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The person was later diagnosed with measles after seeking treatment Sunday at Delnor Hospital in Geneva.

Anyone who was at Midway between 9 p.m. Friday and midnight Saturday may have been exposed to the rare viral infection, the IDPH said.

People who visited Delnor’s emergency unit between 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Sunday could also be affected, the IDPH said. Additionally, people who visited the hospital between 4 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Sunday or between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday may have also been exposed.

Officials are investigating the infection as an isolated incident, the IDPH said. However, local health departments are working to notify Illinoisans who were on the same flights as the exposed person, who was traveling overseas “to countries where measles is regularly found.”

This case is not believed to be related to four measles cases that were reported earlier this month in Champaign County, the IDPH said.

“Measles is highly contagious. However, two doses of measles vaccine are about 97 percent effective in preventing measles,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in the statement. “We urge everyone to make sure they and their family members are up-to-date on measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations, especially if you are traveling to other countries where measles is regularly found. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, it protects others around you who are too young to get the vaccine or cannot receive it for medical reasons.”

Symptoms of measles — which include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes — may not be detectable until March 20, the IDPH said. If a person develops symptoms, the agency recommends calling or emailing a health care provider before visiting a doctor’s office or emergency room. Special arrangements can be made for an evaluation while also protecting other patients and medical staff from infection.

Measles can lead to serious illnesses, like pneumonia and encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, the IDPH said. The infection spreads easily through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, but people can also get sick by coming into contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person.

For more information, contact your health care provider or visit the IDPH website.