Phoenix Avoids a Measles Outbreak
A little more than a month after someone with measles flew into Phoenix, health officials say it looks like an outbreak has been avoided.
There have been multiple measles outbreaks in places along the West Coast this year, including more than 20 cases in Orange County, California, and more than 400 cases in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area. In Phoenix, however, it appears there was no spread.
It can take up to 21 days after exposure to measles for a person to start showing symptoms, and the infected person's last public location in Phoenix was on March 31, at Sky Harbor airport from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Arizona Department of Health Services director Will Humble writes on his blog that "it looks like we've dodged a bullet from this case."
There have been no additional reports of measles infections in Arizona, as the latest date that anyone would have shown symptoms was two weeks ago.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected with the measles virus."
At the time this measles case was reported, Maricopa County's health department director, Dr. Bob England, expressed "frustration" over the fact that vaccination levels aren't higher, which would prevent outbreaks.
State health department statistics do show that more parents are choosing not to get their children vaccinated. Back in 2003, only 1.6 percent of kindergartners weren't vaccinated due to a personal-belief or religious exemption from a parent. As of last school year, a decade later, that rate more than doubled, to 3.9 percent.
State health department statistics show that more than 97 percent of sixth- and tenth-graders last year in Maricopa County were vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella, while 94 percent of kindergartners were.
Humble writes on his blog, "While we can breathe a lucky sigh of relief, efforts now redouble to ensure that 95% of the population is vaccinated against measles (making it harder for future measles cases to spread), that we maintain vaccination records for Arizonans, and that we're prepared to control the next infectious disease that flies into AZ."
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.