On Saturday morning, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health confirmed at least one case of measles involving an international visitor. The department is currently investigating the case and doctors at Phoenix Children’s Hospital have been on high alert due to a spike in measles cases across the country and overseas.
To reach herd immunity, a region needs at least 95% of the population to be vaccinated against measles. However, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, only 89% of kindergarteners are vaccinated against measles. This puts the Valley at risk for another outbreak of the highly contagious disease.
The airborne virus can spread through coughing and sneezing, leaving the air around it infectious for several hours. Complications from measles can range from mild to severe, including pneumonia and brain swelling. Dr. Nick Staab, assistant medical director for MCDPH, emphasized the preventability of the disease, urging residents to stay up-to-date on their vaccines and watch for symptoms of measles, especially if they are high risk or unvaccinated.
Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, white spots in the throat, red and/or watery eyes, rash, and a runny nose. It can take up to 21 days to start showing symptoms after exposure to the virus. Those who experience symptoms should self-isolate, stay away from others, and contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible. By taking these precautions and staying vigilant about their health and that of those around them, residents can help prevent another outbreak of this dangerous disease.