New cases of measles confirmed in Maricopa, Pinal counties

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX  and FLORENCE -- The concern over measles exposure in Arizona is growing now that two more patients have been identified – a man in Pinal County and a Woman in Maricopa County.

According to health officials in each county, both patients had contact with members of a family from Kearny that recently went to Disneyland. Four members, none of whom had been vaccinated, developed measles when they returned home.

According to the Pinal County Public Health Services District, the man, who is now recovering, was born after 1957; people born before then are generally considered immune to the disease. He also reported receiving just one dose of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. Two doses are required for the vaccination to be effective.

"This new case raises the possibility that some Pinal County residents or others in the area may have been exposed to measles since the patient visited public locations while infectious," according to a news release from the Pinal County Public Health Services District.

Health officials are working with the patient to reconstruct his movements over the past several days. So far, they have a list of five public locations.

Tuesday, Jan. 20

  • Big D's, 1113 Tillbury, Kearny - 5:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m.
  • Gordon's IGA, 352 Alden Road, Kearny - 3 p.m.-8 p.m.
  • Kearny Health Mart, 338 Alden Road, Kearny - 4:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • Kearny Post Office, 388 Alden Road, Kearny - 3 p.m.-8 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 21

  • Cactus Mini-Mart, 352 Alden Road, Kearny--5:30 a.m. -8:30.a.m.
  • One other public location TBD

"We have already contacted these places of business this patient visited. These businesses are assisting the health department by placing signs at their entrances to inform customers and employees that they could have been exposed if they were in these locations during specific timeframes," Kore Redden, the district's acting director, said.

If a person is unvaccinated or unsure of his vaccination status and visited any of the above businesses during these specific dates and timeframes, contact the Pinal County Public Health Department at 520-509-3555 or toll-free at 1-888-431-1311.

"We're working very hard to corral this and keep it as localized as possible," Joe Pyritz, a spokesman for the Pinal County Public Health Services District, said.

Information about the Maricopa County woman, the seventh Arizona measles patient, came shortly after the news from Pinal County.

Maricopa County Public Health said the woman was at the Phoenix Children's East Valley Center between Jan. 20 and 21, possibly exposing people there to the highly contagious disease.

"As you would expect, the minute Phoenix Children's heard about a potential case of measles with exposure at one of their facilities, their team was immediately mobilized to identify and notify all who may have been exposed by this individual," said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for Maricopa County Public Health's disease control division.

Nearly 200 kids were at the Phoenix Children's East Valley Center during those two days.

Dr. Bob England, the director of The Maricopa County department of Public Health, describes measles as "wildly infectious." It's the most contagious disease on Earth.

Those who have not been vaccinated are at a far greater risk of getting sick than those who have had their two MMR shots.

The Pinal County Public Health Services District says those who were at the above locations during the specified time should monitors themselves for symptoms – fever, red and watery eyes, cough and runny nose, and unexplained rash – until Feb. 13.

Symptoms typically appear within seven to 12 days of exposure, but can take up to 21 days to manifest.

If you think you have the measles, stay home and contact your health provider immediately. If you do not have a doctor, contact your local urgent care center or emergency room. Do not just show up there.

Health experts say if you have not been vaccinated or only had one MMR dose should get a vaccine as soon as possible. It takes about two weeks to build immunity.

"Getting your child's vaccinations on the recommended schedule is the most important way parents can protect children from infectious diseases, like measles," said Dr. Randy Christensen, medical staff president and director, ambulatory pediatrics, Phoenix Children's Hospital. "The measles vaccine is safe and effective. If you have questions about vaccines, talk to your child's pediatrician."

This new cases in Pinal and Maricopa counties bring the total number of measles cases in Arizona to seven.

The first was a Maricopa County woman in her 50s who visited Disneyland in mid-December. She has since recovered.

Cases of measles have been reported in several states in recent weeks, most of them coinciding with recent trips to Disneyland.

For more information on measles' signs and symptoms or where you may find vaccine, please visit www.WeArePublicHealth.org or www.StoptheSpreadAZ.com.