Last week, we had some pediatric patients come in with upper respiratory symptoms.  A few of them had a rash and had been given antibiotics, so there was a thought that maybe it was a “drug-related rash.”  But it wasn’t long before a few more kids came in, and it was clear that this wasn’t a medication-induced rash.  Yep, this was measles.

photo 1
Typical measles rash
Sometimes the spots coalesce into larger lesions like this one.
Sometimes the spots coalesce into larger lesions like this one.

It didn’t take long before our entire pediatric ward was full of measles patients.  We were in the middle of a genuine outbreak.  The feared complication of measles is pneumonia, and indeed most of the patients we were getting had it.  Many have them were requiring oxygen.  In the picture below, the machines on the floor are oxygen concentrators.

Pedi ward full of measles patients - most with pneumonia and on oxygen.
Pedi ward full of measles patients – most with pneumonia and on oxygen.

The health department was notified, and they began taking measures.  Much of the outbreak was centered on an orphanage down the street from us.  So we contacted them and gave them specific instructions.  First, isolate any kids that were showing symptoms.  Second, send any kids to the hospital that were showing signs of pneumonia or respiratory distress.  We took a trip down to the orphanage ourselves to see the patients who were not sent to the hospital and check on them.

Dr. Mehret checking out one of the babies.
Dr. Mehret checking out one of the babies.

By God’s grace, the outbreak seems to be relenting.  Our hospital has admitted around 15 kids.  Sadly, a few of them have succumbed to the disease.  The thing about measles in outbreak settings, is that it affects the very young.  Children are vaccinated against this virus between nine months and one year of age.  So the most vulnerable are the babies less than nine months.  Formula-fed babies (like the orphans) are particularly vulnerable because they don’t get protective maternal antibodies.  Fortunately, some who were very sick are pulling through.   The situation itself feels like a war zone.  Our doctors and our nurses are tired, but they are doing an amazing job – rising to the occasion and providing excellent care.  We praise God for using us in this situation, and hope to bring Him glory through it.  As it says in 1 Cor 15:58, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  Pray that we will be steadfast.  And that no more of these precious little ones will die.

The other thing about situations like this, is that it stretches our thin resources to the maximum.  We don’t have enough oxygen concentrators.  We don’t have enough pulse oximeters.  And we can’t mechanically ventilate kids with severe pneumonia.  We hope to buy non-invasive ventilator machines, and perhaps one or two mechanical ventilators.  We’d love to be even better prepared the next time this happens.  Would you consider a donation today that would help us do that?  Just click donate in the upper right corner of the site.  Thanks for your support and prayers.



St. Luke’s Health Care Foundation
(630) 510-2222
St. Luke's Health Care Foundation PO Box 4465
Wheaton, IL 60189-4465