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Cook County at high risk for measles outbreak in 2019, report says

A nurse holds up a one dose bottle and a prepared syringe of measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine made by Merck at the Utah County Health Department on April 29, 2019 in Provo, Utah. | George Frey/Getty Images

A new report says Cook County is one of the most likely places for a measles outbreak — and could see among the largest number of cases of any county at risk.

The report, published Thursday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, said that although Cook County has only reported one case of measles in 2019, the disease could become an issue here because of the presence of Chicago’s two major international airports.

This year, the U.S. has reported 704 confirmed measles cases in 22 states, compared to 372 cases in 2018, 120 cases in 2017 and 86 cases in 2016. The report blames the increasingly visible anti-vaccine movement for the uptick in measles cases nationally, although it doesn’t go into detail on the level of vaccination in Illinois.

Only four months into 2019, the number of measles cases reported in the U.S. is “already the highest since measles was declared eliminated in 2000,” the report said.

The report suggests Cook and the other 25 counties listed should increase surveillance and vaccination for the disease. Los Angeles is also considered at high risk.

The authors should know: the report says they correctly predicted outbreaks in Oregon, Washington and New York, where Brooklyn, for example, has already seen 300 cases.