The Arizona Department of Health Services, Maricopa County Department of Public Health and Pinal County Public Health Services District have confirmed a total of ten cases of measles in Arizona that originated in the private Eloy Detention Center.
Seven inmates, and four staff members at the facility, which houses illegal immigrants are confirmed to have the disease.
Officials initially confirmed two cases on Thursday. Officials report that both of those victims; one detainee and one staff member, are recovering. The detainee spread the disease to a member of the staff, who had been vacinated.
Public health has issued a community wide health alert for Pinal County as one of the new cases visited multiple locations in and around Casa Grande from May 15 through May 22.
“It’s extremely important that people who have a rash and fever call their healthcare provider or emergency department ahead of time to let them know they may have measles,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “This will help stop the spread of measles, especially to those who are more at risk of developing complications.”
Public exposure for the new case includes:
•Multiple visits to the Apostolic Assembly – The Faith, 424 E. Frontier Street in Eloy on Sunday May 15 from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM, Monday May 16 from 6:00 PM until 10:00 PM, and Wednesday May 18 from 7:00 PM until 10:30 PM.
•Tuesday, May 17, 2016: Villa Oasis High School graduation, 3740 N Toltec Road in Toltec from 6:00 PM until 9:00 PM.
•Wednesday, May 18, 2016: Cottonwood Medical Center, 560 North Camino Mercado, Unit 7 in Casa Grande from 1:00 PM to 5:30 PM.
Previously reported public exposure from another case includes:
•Saturday, May 21, 2016: Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 North Maricopa Road in Maricopa from approximately 6:00 PM until 2:00 AM (May 22).
•Sunday, May 22, 2016: Arco AM/PM Store, 2245 East Florence Boulevard in Casa Grande from 8:30 AM until 11:00 AM.
Symptoms appear seven to 12 days after exposure but may take up to 21 days. It begins with fever (101 F or higher), red, watery eyes, cough and runny nose and is followed by a rash that is red, raised, and blotchy. The rash begins on the face at the hairline and moves down the body and may last five to six days.
Late last year, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, was blasted for stating that people who are entering the country illegally without being screened for measles and U.S. citizens who don’t get vaccinated were factors in the increase in measles cases. At the time, Carson said the increase was due to a “combination of noncompliance and introduction into our society of people who perhaps haven’t been well screened.”
The Hill reported that “Carson said he wasn’t trying to speak in code when he was asked by CNN host Chris Cuomo if he was turning the measles debate into an immigration debate.”
“It’s not code, and I’m not trying to make it into any particular argument. I’m stating what the facts are,” he replied to Cuomo according to the Hill. “The facts are that there are people in our country who have become lax in terms of their vigilance, getting their kids immunized, and we have people coming in who are not necessarily being properly screened. That’s not making it an issue, it’s stating facts.”
Staff with other illegal immigrant shelters have expressed concerns with healthcare screening procedures, but those concerns have been ignored by fderal and state health officials in the past.
“Measles is a highly contagious yet vaccine-preventable disease,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “It is spread through the air and through coughing, sneezing, and contact with mucus or saliva from the nose, mouth, or throat of an infected person.”
You may be protected from measles if you were vaccinated for measles or if you have previously had the disease. You are immune to measles if you have received two Measles, Mumps, and Rubella [MMR] vaccines or were born before 1957 and have received one MMR vaccine, according to Christ.
Health care providers are required to report suspect cases of measles to their local health department.
The illness begins with symptoms which include fever (101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher), red, watery eyes, cough and runny nose. A rash that is red, raised, and blotchy appears after several days. The rash begins on the head at the hairline and moves down the body.
“Symptoms can appear up to 21 days after exposure,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director and disease control administrator for Maricopa County Department of Public Health. “Based on what we know now for the above exposures, if you have not developed measles symptoms by June 13, 2016, you have not been infected. A person with measles is considered to be contagious as soon as symptoms start and can last four days after the rash appears.”
What to do if you think you have measles:
If you have a health care provider, contact them by phone and let them know that you may have been exposed to measles. They will let you know when to visit their office so as not to expose others in the waiting area. If you do not have a health care provider, you may need to be seen at your local hospital emergency room/urgent care center.