Measles cases develop at NIU

By Stewart Warren

One confirmed and one suspected case of measles has already been reported at NIU this semester.

The NIU student with the confirmed case had been properly immunized with the measles vaccine as a child, but still caught the disease, said Carol Sibley, health center communicable disease coordinator.

“Nationwide outbreaks of measles have increased multiplefold,” said Dr. Herbert Menandez, pediatrician and medical director at the DeKalb Clinic.

Eight people in the Chicago area have died from the disease, which is characterized by a severe, itchy rash all over the body, fevers as high as 105 degrees, red eyes and a sensitivity to light, he said.

The disease can be complicated by secondary pneumonia and the possiblity of brain swelling, leading sometimes to hearing loss, brain damage or death, he said.

Menandez said the epidemic began in the under-immunized population and that the disease seeks out non-immunized people. However, five to 10 percent of all people vaccinated may not be safe from the disease, he said.

Menandez explained that a person that does not get a good immune response from a vaccination can catch the disease if they are exposed.

Tana Knetsch, a representative of the DeKalb County Health Department, said two cases of measles have been reported in DeKalb since the early spring. One was an 11-month-old child that had not yet been immunized, and the other was an eight-year-old child that had been vaccinated in a foreign country.

Usually, children are not immunized until they are between 12 and 15 months old. Now, a booster shot at a later age is recommended as well, Menandez said.

Dr. Robert Daum, head of the pediatric infectious disease program at the University of Chicago and a consultant to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in a Chicago Tribune article that all grade school, high school and college students receive a booster shot of the measles vaccine.

Daum also said adults younger than 33 years old that work with young children or live in the 13 Chicago high-risk communities should have a booster shot.

Current NIU guidelines do not allow the health center to give booster shots. “Go back home, talk to your physician, get your records and get immunized if needed,” Carol Sibley advises.

Dr. Menandez agrees. “If in doubt, get re-vaccinated,” he said.