Epidemiologists: Public Health’s Smoke-Jumpers

April 10th, 2014 by Will Humble Leave a reply »

MeaslesLike a hotshot team, a rapid response by public health is essential to stopping the spread of measles in unvaccinated persons… and disease detectives in Maricopa County are currently working to squash a measles outbreak right now.

Last week a person with measles visited a restaurant, church and airport in Arizona, exposing over a thousand people to measles.  Press releases and health alerts have gone out- and epidemiologists, public health nurses, and healthcare providers have been dispatched by Maricopa County Public Health to identify, isolate and control further cases.  Time will tell if their efforts pay off.  We should know in a couple of weeks (the incubation period for measles is 10 – 18 days).

Measles seeks out the unvaccinated like fire seeks a dry branch – the chance of an unvaccinated contact getting measles is 90% once exposed.   If you’re not vaccinated against measles, you can get it just by being in a room with someone who has measles.  A measles vaccine can prevent infection if given within 72 hours of exposure as an emergency control measure for unvaccinated folks…  but herd immunity is what keeps the community from getting burned.



  1. Mark says:

    What or where can people get information on whether or not people contracted the disease from the traveler and in turn have been exposing others in the valley? We like many others with young babies are in the phoenix area….although we were not at the sites on the same time as the traveler with measels was what if our paths crossed with those who were? It’s very scary having a baby who is too young to immunize and yet those who can are choosing not to… Am I supposed to keep my baby in the house until she is one??

    • Will Humble says:


      Maricopa County Public Health is following up on leads and investigating suspect cases as well as enhancing surveillance via the Health Alert Network.

      I just checked- and there aren’t any new confirmed cases yet- but there’s still a week left in the incubation period.

      If Maricopa Public Health finds any new cases they will do a media release to let the public know.

      – will

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