An unvaccinated traveler who flew into Phoenix has measles and may have exposed others in Maricopa County to the highly contagious disease, health authorities warned Wednesday.
It's believed the person, who is from California, visited multiple public locations in the Phoenix area for several days and likely infected others, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health said.
The person flew into Terminal No. 4 from Europe on a trip to the Valley.
While officials said there are no confirmed cases of measles yet, they fear it could be the beginning of a potential outbreak.
Dr. Bob England with the Department of Public Health said this case is unique since the infected person spent time in such public places.
They are asking people who visited these locations on the dates and times listed to monitor for symptoms and alert their health care provider by phone should they develop measles.
England said anyone who was in the listed areas needs to watch for possible signs of infection such as a fever, red and itchy eyes, a cough and a runny nose.
"Right about now would be the perfect time to begin to get symptoms for some of them," England said.
There is no longer concern for residents visiting these public locations now, health authorities stressed.
"Measles is the most contagious disease known to man, which is why when we find one case, we must act quickly to identify additional cases and stop the outbreak as soon as possible," England said.
Measles is a vaccine-preventable viral illness spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth and throat of an infected individual.
The virus can survive in the air for hours and may be transmitted to susceptible individuals even after an infected individual is no longer in the room or area.
You may be protected from measles if you were immunized for measles or if you have previously had the disease. Healthcare providers are required to report suspected cases of measles to Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
Health experts said people who have the measles should contact their healthcare provider by phone. They will determine when to visit their office so as not to expose others in the waiting area.
"If we don't nip it in the bud, it'll just continue to bounce around here for a while," England said.
People who don't have a healthcare provider may need to be seen at a local hospital, emergency room or urgent care center.
Click here for more information on measles' signs and symptoms or where you can find a vaccine.
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