Arizona Fights Measles Outbreak Ahead of Super Bowl

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Just 3 days before the state hosts the nation's biggest sporting event, public health officials in Arizona are locked in an off-the-field battle with a different kind of opponent.

Super Bowl and Measles

Just 3 days before the state hosts the nation’s biggest sporting event, public health officials in Arizona are locked in an off-the-field battle with a different kind of opponent: Measles.

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is monitoring as many as 1,000 people it believes may have been exposed to the virus. The state had 7 confirmed cases as of Thursday morning. Given the highly contagious nature of measles, the number of cases could sky-rocket just as international media attention descends upon Glendale and the much-anticipated football game.

In a blog post, ADHS Director Will Humble said his agency is moving quickly.

“We and the county health departments are continuing to follow protocols for measles investigation to reduce the chance of disease spread,” he wrote. “For example, Maricopa County has recommended that all children who were exposed and haven’t had at least one dose of MMR vaccine not go to school/daycare for the 21 day incubation period to avoid potential spread.”

The Arizona cases have been linked to the outbreak of measles at Disneyland in California. The case is reigniting concerns over parents who refuse vaccinations for their children. Many regions of California, including the area around Disneyland, have higher-than-average rates of unvaccinated children.

Despite Arizona’s attempts to be proactive, Humble said they face significant challenges.

The original Arizona case stemmed from a family that had not been vaccinated, Humble said. One child from that family appears to have exposed 18 children when the child was taken to an urgent care facility. Humble said many of the children at the urgent care facility were less than 1 year old, thus they would not yet have received their first MMR shot. In total, he said 13 of the 18 children exposed at the center were unvaccinated.

A Maricopa County woman who contracted the disease from the family may have exposed as many as 195 children at Phoenix Children’s Specialty and Urgent Care - East Valley Center, Humble said.

Humble said susceptible measles contacts have been offered immune globulin. He said IG won’t prevent the patient from getting measles, but it can lessen the symptoms if the patient receives the dose within 6 days of contracting measles.

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