measlesvirusArizona has confirmed two cases of measles associated with an Eloy Detention Center this week.

Measles is one of the most communicable diseases there is- 90% of non-immune people exposed to measles will get the disease . It’s a viral disease of the upper respiratory system that is spread in the air and through droplet spread if the person coughs or sneezes. It can linger in the air, exposing people, for up to two hours. Measles starts with a fever and cough, eye redness, and a unique rash. The trouble with measles is that people are contagious BEFORE they know they have it- which can result in exposure to others. These confirmed cases greatly increase the chances that we will continue to have additional cases in the coming days and weeks.

Public health is always ready to respond. We’re following our standard protocols and response plan for measles investigation to make sure we reduce the chance of disease spread and rapidly identify new cases. Epidemiology and nursing staff here and at local health departments are making sure healthcare providers are on the lookout for measles cases and rapidly report any suspect cases to public health for follow up and testing.

The primary interventions are to make people aware of potential exposures, identify contacts of cases and make sure providers think measles as part of their differential and know what to do when a patient presents with what could be measles. If someone is sick and may have been exposed to measles we encourage them to call their provider ahead of time so the office can make sure that patients in the waiting room won’t be exposed and that all their staff are adequately vaccinated.

Of course, the best prevention is immunization- and this is why it is so important to keep our vaccination rates up. People are considered immune if they have received two measles, mumps, and rubella

[MMR] vaccines or were born before 1957 and have received one MMR vaccine.  We encourage everyone to check their vaccination status and to watch for symptoms if they’ve been exposed.