Measles case in Illinois – IDPH alert

The following is a memo from the Illinois Department of Public Health dated July 12th 2013. Images were added from CDC public domain for clarity.

The Illinois Department of Public Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health departments, have been investigating a confirmed and suspect case of measles in persons who traveled together to Poland and returned to Illinois in late June. The investigations are still ongoing, but it appears both cases are imported. Measles cases are rare in Illinois but do occur. Since 2009, only three other cases have been reported and all had onset in 2011.

Measles Disease

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that is characterized by a rash, fever, cold symptoms, conjunctivitis, malaise, and Koplik’s spots (tiny white spots with bluish-white center inside the mouth).
Koplik spots - courtesy CDC
While measles is almost eradicated in the United States due to high vaccination coverage levels, it still kills nearly 200,000 people each year around the world. Currently the virus is endemic in many African, Asian, and European countries. Measles should be considered as a diagnosis in unvaccinated persons presenting with a febrile rash illness as described above and recent international travel or contact with travelers or other persons with rash illness.

Reporting of Suspicious Cases

Physicians and other providers should contact their local health department to report a suspected measles case as soon as possible but within 24 hours. In highly suspicious cases, health care providers should not wait for laboratory results before contacting their local health department.

Measles cases can develop complications, including encephalitis, pneumonia, ear infections (permanent loss of hearing can result) or diarrhea. These complications are more common among children under five years of age and adults over 20 years old. Measles infection can be fatal and can cause miscarriage, premature birth or a low-birth-weight baby in pregnant women.
Laboratories should also report to their local health department positive lab tests for measles within 24 hours. In turn, local health departments should report cases to the IDPH CD Section within the same time period.

Measles - photo courtesy CDC

Prompt recognition, reporting and investigation of measles cases are important since transmission can be limited with early case identification and vaccination of susceptible contacts. For cases that have recently traveled, obtaining travel details (e.g. flight dates, times and numbers) are important for identifying contacts among fellow travelers. Persons traveling abroad should inquire about vaccinations before traveling abroad to prevent measles illness.


The following resources on measles infections are available: