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Officials: Plano students don’t have mumps virus

County school, health officials emphasize the importance of vaccinations

PLANO – Plano school officials announced Friday, March 22, that the district was notified by county and state health officials about one Plano High School student who possibly had mumps and one student at Centennial Elementary School who possibly was exposed, were found not to have the virus.

The announcement came after an email was sent Wednesday, March 13, to families within the Plano school district alerting them of mumps symptoms, how it is transmitted and how to prevent infection.

Tony Baker, superintendent for Plano School District 88, said cleaning procedures continued as usual as the district awaited more updates from health officials. Despite Plano High School having a 98 percent protection rate from mumps and Centennial Elementary School having a 100 percent protection rate, Baker said the district’s nurse was advised by county health department officials to treat it as if it were a confirmed case.

“We put out the message as a proactive measure, a proactive step,” Baker said.

The incident comes after there have been six cases of measles so far this year in Illinois, according to the state’s health department.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois is one of six states to have a measles outbreak. One person arrived on a flight to Midway Airport in Chicago and sought care shortly thereafter at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva. That prompted the Illinois Department of Public Health to issue a public warning to people who might have been exposed at the airport or hospital.

Terri Olson, community health director for the Kendall County Health Department, said the county generally doesn’t advise letters be sent out until outbreak numbers are met. For measles and mumps, that number is three cases, she said.

“When we say somebody has measles, we don’t necessarily start getting all excited until we get confirmation of the infection itself ... and then we also have three cases of it,” Olson said.

Olson said there were three suspected measles cases in Kendall County after the exposure of the disease at Midway Airport. Along with the suspected mumps case and exposure within Plano schools, she said, all of the suspected measles cases that were tested from state labs came back negative.

Illinois requires all schoolchildren to be vaccinated against measles and other diseases, including polio, chickenpox and tetanus. The World Health Organization recommends a 95 percent measles, mumps and rubella vaccination rate or higher to create herd immunity, or to stop the spread of contagious diseases within a population.

Students may be exempt from vaccinations after citing religious objections or for medical reasons. Homeless students also are not required to provide proof of immunization in order to start attending school under the McKinney-Vento Act.

About 91 percent of schools in Kendall County are at or above the level of achieving herd immunity for mumps and measles, according to Illinois State Board of Education immunization data for the current school year. The schools that fell below the recommended mark are Newark Elementary School, with a protection percentage of 94.41 percent, Cross Lutheran School in Yorkville at 94.12 percent, Yorkvile Christian High School at 87.04 percent and Grace Holistic Center for Education in Yorkville at 44.19 percent.

Grace Holistic Center, which has 43 students, had 14 students claim religious exemptions and 10 students as unprotected and not in compliance, according to state data. Tairi Grace, founder of Grace Holistic Center for Education, declined a request for comment from Kendall County Record newspapers.

Baker said it continues to be important for school officials to get all students within the district vaccinated and compliant with state laws.

“I think our families appreciate us being proactive,” Baker said.

Olson said county health officials urge residents to follow the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination schedule recommendations for children – which is to have it administered at 12 to 15 months old and again at 4 to 6 years old – and for vaccine-cautious parents to ask health professionals any questions they may have. She said when it comes to measles, it’s especially important to make sure children are vaccinated, since the disease is highly contagious and can remain in the air for two hours if an infected person sneezes in a room.

“Many individuals can be affected by that – that’s our fear,” Olson said.

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