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Concerns in US about measles grow as 5 new cases diagnosed

February 6, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) — Concerns about measles in the U.S. are growing as five infants who attend a suburban Chicago day care center have now been diagnosed with the disease.

The Illinois cases come amid a growing debate in the U.S. about children who are not vaccinated, including in California where lawmakers are hoping to follow the lead of two other states with proposed legislation that would require parents to vaccinate all schoolchildren unless a child’s health is in danger.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there have been at least 102 confirmed measles cases in 14 states in 2015, not including the latest cases in Illinois. Of those 102, 94 were related to a recent outbreak at Disneyland that sickened dozens of people.

The Illinois and Cook County health departments said in a news release Thursday that lab tests confirmed measles in two infants who go to the KinderCare Learning Center on East Palatine Road in Palatine. Tests are pending for three others, but they have been diagnosed based on symptoms.

Officials had not identified the source of the infections at the center, but Dr. Terry Mason, chief operating officer for the county’s health and hospitals system, said there is no known link between the infants’ measles and the Disneyland outbreak.

Health officials do not recommend measles shots before a child turns 1, at which time the U.S. government recommends all children get a first dose of the measles vaccine with a second dose between the ages of 4 and 6.

Illinois law requires one dose of measles vaccine for children in day care by age 2, or proof that they already have had the disease. Two doses are required for those entering kindergarten.

Measles is spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It’s so contagious that 90 percent of people who aren’t immunized are infected if exposed to the virus, according to the CDC.

For most people, measles is miserable but not life-threatening. The most common symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, and a rash all over the body. However, a very small fraction of people get much sicker, and can suffer complications like pneumonia and encephalitis.

The CDC’s immunization chief said last week that some U.S. measles cases this year were linked with travel to Indonesia, India and Dubai. In recent years, most measles cases in the United States were linked with overseas travel.

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AP Medical Writers Lindsey Tanner and Mike Stobbe contributed to this report.

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