Health officials confirm 3 measles cases in Maricopa County
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- For the first time in three years, Maricopa County has three confirmed cases of measles. Those infected are one adult and two children, and all three were unvaccinated. Health officials said one case was so bad, that person is in the hospital. The Maricopa County Department of Public Health confirmed all three are related but wouldn’t say how. One of them traveled abroad to an area impacted by measles and brought it back.
MCDPH says it’s conducting case investigations and contact tracing on all three cases. “We are working diligently with the cases and their healthcare providers to identify any potential exposures and notify people who were exposed promptly,” said Dr. Nick Staab, a medical epidemiologist at MCDPH. “The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to get vaccinated against measles if you have not already been vaccinated.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services is sounding the alarm about vaccinations. In Arizona, just more than 90% of kindergarten students received the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. That’s down from the two previous school years. Ninety-five percent is needed for herd immunity. Santa Cruz and Yuma counties have the highest vaccination rates, while Maricopa County stands at 90%. Yavapai County is at the lowest with 77%. State data also show that the number of kids with personal belief exemptions has increased over the same time period. “It is concerning, very concerning; especially for the children that are around here,” Kenneth Nielson, a Phoenix man said.
Measles can linger in the air for up to two hours, and around 90% of unvaccinated individuals exposed to measles will be infected. The virus is preventable with two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, typically given during childhood. Those born prior to 1957 or who had measles as a child are considered immune.
Anyone who may have been exposed should watch for the following symptoms between 7 to 12 days after being exposed:
- Fever (101 F or higher)
- Red, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- A non-itchy red rash, raised, and blotchy, that may start at the hairline and moves down the body, lasting 5 to 6 days
Those who develop symptoms are encouraged to seek medical care, testing, and avoid others. They should call the provider ahead to inform them about symptoms and potential exposure before going in so the provider can reduce the possibility of others in the office getting exposed. Individuals who do not have a healthcare provider can find a federally-qualified community health center or a provider at FindHelpPhx.org.
MCDPH is also telling community healthcare providers to be on the lookout for fever and rash among unvaccinated patients, primarily if they have known exposure. “Measles is both highly contagious and preventable,” said Dr. Staab. “It can be a severe illness, so we strongly encourage anyone who has not been vaccinated to get vaccinated to prevent further spread.”
For more information on measles, visit https://www.maricopa.gov/2835/Measles.
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