PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Department of Public Health has confirmed that an unvaccinated individual returning from Europe has measles.
While in Maricopa County, this individual visited multiple public locations and likely exposed others to measles.
"While this person was here, they went to multiple locations where there's a lot of other people," said Dr. Bob England, director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health. "That's why we're concerned about this one."
She was in the county two weeks ago. Symptoms, which resemble allergies with a high fever, can take three weeks to appear.
Locations where people may have been exposed:
- March 29 Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Terminal 4; 6:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.
- March 30 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Cave Creek Chapel, 38008 N. Basin Rd in Cave Creek (Cave Creek, Desert Ridge and Pinnacle Peak Wards); 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.
- March 31 Wildflower Bread Company, 15640 N. Hayden Rd in Scottsdale; 12:00 p.m. until 5 p.m.
- March 31 Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Terminal 4; 3:00pm until 7:00pm
Individuals who were at these locations during the above times should monitor for symptoms and call their health care provider if they begin exhibiting symptoms. There is no longer concern for residents visiting these public locations now.
"Measles is the most contagious disease known to man which is why when we find one case, we must act quickly to identify additional cases and stop the outbreak as soon as possible," England said.
"The frustration is that if enough people get just 2 doses of MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine, we would have enough immunity in the population to prevent outbreaks from happening at all. But now, again, we may watch individuals potentially get sick, lose time at work and school, and watch health care resources unnecessarily devoted to trying to contain this," England added.
Measles is a highly-contagious, vaccine-preventable viral illness spread through coughing, sneezing, and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth, and throat of an infected individual. Measles virus can survive in the air for hours and may be transmitted to susceptible individuals even after an infected individual is no longer in the room or area. You may be protected from measles if you were immunized for measles or if you have previously had the disease.
Health care providers are required to report suspect cases of measles to Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
This is the first known case of measles in the county in three years.
The disease nearly disappeared but has recently been making a comeback, which health officials attribute to fewer parents choosing to get their children vaccinated.
"We're seeing more cases now than we have in the last 10 years," said Dr. A.D. Jacobson with Phoenix Children's Hospital. "That is because a lot more people are deciding not to get the vaccine."
In Maricopa County, 97 percent of high schoolers and 94 percent of kindergartners are vaccinated.
"It's a horrible disease," Jacobson said. "All you have to do is see a case of it and you're convinced ... you want to make sure you get your child immunized."
Bev Hermon said the disease has forever changed her son, Eric.
"My child was a brilliant little 3-year-old and he is still as lovable as ever, but he's not the same child," she said. "To think that parents would avoid (the vaccine) just tears me up."
- Typically appear 7-12 days after exposure to measles but may take up to 21 days
- Begin with fever (101 F or higher), red, watery eyes, cough and runny nose
- Followed by a rash that is red, raised, and blotchy. The rash begins on the face at the hairline and moves down the body. The rash may last for 5-6 days and may turn brownish.
What to do if you think you have measles:
If you have a health care provider, contact him/her by phone and let them know that you may have been exposed to measles. They will let you know when to visit their office so as not to expose others in the waiting area.
If you do not have a health care provider, you may need to be seen at your local hospital emergency room/urgent care center. Please call before going to let them know you may have measles.
For more information on measles' signs and symptoms or where you may find vaccine, please visit http://www.WeArePublicHealth.org.