Office of Infectious Disease Services recently published a report in the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) describing the 2016 measles outbreak associated with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in our state. This week marks the one year anniversary of the public health response to the outbreak.

ADHS worked with Pinal County Public Health Services District, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Maricopa County Department of Public Health, and other partners to respond to this outbreak that resulted in 31 confirmed cases of measles in 22 detainees and nine facility staff. It was the largest measles outbreak in Arizona since 1991, and the largest measles outbreak in the United States since 2016. The outbreak was identified on May 25 and was declared over on August 8.

Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by the measles virus. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough, loss of appetite, “pink eye,” and a rash. Measles can be prevented with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is safe and effective. More than 99 percent of people who receive two doses of MMR vaccine develop evidence of immunity to measles. It is important that two doses of MMR are given to children, college students, healthcare personnel, international travelers, and adults considered at high-risk.

Measles outbreaks can occur when there are not enough people in the community who are vaccinated. The MMWR report outlines recommendations for measles control policies to be considered for detention and correctional facilities similar to those recommended in healthcare facilities and other recommendations for having proof of measles immunity for staff working in these settings. The outbreak resulted in administration of MMR vaccine to 1,424 detainees, 190 MMR doses to facility staff, and more than 1,000 MMR doses to Pinal County residents, as well as other vaccination campaigns throughout Arizona.

Please contact your healthcare provider to ensure that you and your family are up to date on your vaccinations. A complete list of resources and information on measles is available online.