Urgent care clinics around the country usually treat nausea, dizziness, flu symptoms, and anxiety as well as other non-life-threatening conditions. Measles, therefore, are not their forte. Unfortunately, fears about a serious outbreak of this highly contagious condition occurring in Arizona were fueled when a woman sought care at one of these walk in medical clinics, exposing 190 people to the disease. However, while officials are reluctant to make a definitive statement, the Arizona measles outbreak is believed to be over.
Following the heavily-publicized outbreak of measles at Disneyland, two cases of the illness were reported in Arizona. The second case was discovered in late January, after a woman with measles visited Phoenix Children’s East Valley Center, an urgent care facility in Mesa run by Phoenix Children’s Hospital. While it is not publicly known if the infected woman was a patient or an employee, a hospital spokesperson confirmed that 190 people, including children and parents seeking medical treatment, were exposed to the disease. All of the patients were reportedly notified and advised on how to handle their medical needs until it was verified that they were not infected.
According to Maricopa County health officials, the infected woman had not been to Disneyland herself, but had come in contact with a family with confirmed cases of the measles. In total, more than 1,000 people were believed to have been exposed to the measles from this and other incidents.
By mid-February, however, state authorities tentatively predicted that the outbreak was over. There had been seven confirmed cases of the measles stemming from the Disneyland incident, but no new cases have been reported. It can take up to 21 days for patients to develop symptoms, a deadline all of the potential patients have passed. However, public health departments usually wait 42 days to declare an official end to an outbreak, a standard that is likely responsible for their hesitance.
Experts have speculated that the lack of new cases could have been caused by a number of factors, such as high vaccination rates: Kearney, for example, where hundreds of people where exposed to the measles, 100% of kindergartners and 97% of sixth grade students have reportedly received the measles vaccine. In contrast, most of the cases at Disneyland occurred in patients who were not vaccinated. Health officials also believe their cases and exposure levels could have been less severe, as several of the patients had received at least one vaccine in the past and also came into contact with people at times they would have been less infectious.
But while Arizona appears to have escaped the threat of a serious outbreak for the moment, other states have not been so lucky: there were as many as 60 reported cases in California following the Disneyland outbreak, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have now counted 121 cases in 17 states. Of this number, 85% were traced back to Disneyland.