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‘No need to be scared,’ doctor says, as measles spreads to Will, Lake counties

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(The Center Square) – The latest Illinois measles outbreak has spread beyond Chicago. Will and Lake counties have each reported at least one case. The total number of cases reported in Chicago is now at 33.

Dr. Dan Garganera, infectious disease specialist with the Will County Health Department, said the spread is slow.

“Don’t be scared,” Garganera said. “This is a disease that is controllable with the MMR vaccine.”

The Will County and Lake County health departments are currently working on contract tracing to stem the spread.

Chicago mother Jessica Coletti told ABC7 that her 3-year-old son Vincent came down with measles 10 days ago.

“I have never seen him so sick,” she told ABC7. Coletti said her son is not enrolled in school. She had no idea how he could have become infected.

Unvaccinated babies and children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people are most susceptible in this outbreak, Garganera said. They are advised to stay away from people who may have been exposed to someone with measles. Nine out of 10 unvaccinated people who are exposed to measles will get the disease.

More than 90% of Will County children were vaccinated with MMR when they were one year old, so they are protected, Garganera said.

Measles symptoms may not appear until 10 to 14 days after exposure to someone who is infected. Symptoms start with a cough and a high fever. Children may develop pink eye or white spots on the inside of their mouths. Four days later, an itchy, blotchy rash appears on the head and neck. The rash then moves to the arms, body, and legs. Most people recover after 10 days. One out of 1,000 people who are infected are at risk of brain infections and even death.

A measles infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight. Pregnant women cannot be vaccinated for measles until after they have delivered the baby.

Not sure if you have been vaccinated? Ask your health-care provider if the MMR, which stands for measles, mumps, and rubella, vaccine is in your records. The MMR vaccine is easy to get. Most pediatricians keep a supply in their offices.

People with questions can call the Will County Health Department at 815-727-8481 emergency line.

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