If there are still any lingering doubts about the seriousness of the measles outbreak, today's news out of Chicago should be a wake-up call to parents everywhere. Five babies under the age of 1 — all with ties to the same day care center — are believed to have contracted the measles virus. Two of the children have confirmed cases of the measles, and the other three have been diagnosed with the virus (based on clinical and epidemiological criteria), but doctors are awaiting test confirmations.
The children all attend KinderCare Learning Center in Palatine, IL, and are all too young to have received the measles vaccine.
More than 100 cases of the measles have been confirmed across the United States since the recent outbreak began when an infected person visited Disneyland in December. The current outbreak is heating up the vaccination debate across the country with politicians and doctors weighing in.
Cook County public health officials have told students, staff, and faculty who have not received the MMR vaccine to stay home from the day care center and away from other unvaccinated children for the next 21 days — the incubation period for the virus.
"Individuals who are under the age of one or with certain clinical conditions cannot be vaccinated and are therefore at highest risk for measles. Residents are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the most vulnerable members of the community," officials said.
According to the CDC, one in 20 children with measles will develop pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death from the virus.