A Chicago Midway International Airport passenger might have exposed people to measles there and at a Chicago-area hospital in the past week, Illinois health officials said, as physicians across the globe contend with a surge of measles cases.
The passenger – an Illinois resident whom officials aren’t naming – had the disease and was infectious when he or she was at the airport on the night of February 22, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.
The infected person was on a flight that arrived at the airport’s Concourse B. Officials didn’t say where the flight originated.
The person then sought treatment at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in the Chicago suburb of Geneva, health officials said.
People might have been exposed to the disease, the health department said, if they were at:
• Midway Airport from 9 p.m. to midnight on February 22.
• Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital’s emergency department from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Sunday.
• Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital from 4 to 6:15 p.m. Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday.
“These are the only known public locations in Illinois where exposures occurred,” the health department said in a statement.
Anyone infected in this case could develop symptoms as late as March 20, the department said.
The potential exposures come as measles cases have risen in the United States and across the world.
US measles cases totaled 791 in 2018, up from 120 in 2017, according to UNICEF.
On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 159 measles cases in the United States so far in 2019, with an outbreak in Washington state reaching 70 cases.
Measles, a respiratory disease characterized by a rash of flat red spots, can lead to severe complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis – swelling of the brain – and death.
The disease can be prevented by the MMR vaccine, which protects against three diseases. Children should get two doses of the MMR vaccine – this is about 97% effective at preventing measles – according to recommendations made by the CDC.