Last Wednesday, a passenger with a confirmed case of measles landed at O’Hare airport and boarded another plane, according to the Chicago Tribune.
State health officials are advising anyone who was at the airport that day who is not vaccinated against the highly contagious disease to see a doctor immediately.
The passenger in question landed in Terminal 5 (the international terminal) then transferred to a domestic flight in Terminal 1.
Officials say the passenger was at the airport around 6:30 AM to 1 PM that day. Anyone who was at the airport during these times is at risk of infection. The disease is most easily spread through coughing and sneezing and can cause further complications such as pneumonia or encephalitis.
Symptoms of measles are not always immediate, and officials have added that anyone who came in contact with the disease without being vaccinated could be at risk until January 31st. Possible symptoms include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes.
“We urge everyone to make sure they and their family members are up-to-date on measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Layden in the statement.
“Getting vaccinated not only protects you, it protects others around you who are too young to get the vaccine or can’t receive it for medical reasons.”
For more information about the disease, go to the Illinois Department of Health’s website.
Early detection is important not only for being able to treat the disease as soon as possible but for the fact that emergency rooms have overwhelmed lately, particularly from children showing symptoms of the flu.
“A lot of these individuals come to Lurie when they should be going to their pediatrician or urgent care,” Infectious Disease Specialist at Lurie Children’s Hospital Dr. Tina Tan told WGN. “And if it’s deemed seriously ill they can then be referred to emergency room.”