Pima County health officials are closely watching the investigation into a measles case confirmed in an unvaccinated traveler to Phoenix.

The individual, who had returned from Europe, may have exposed others at several public locations in Phoenix, including Sky Harbor International Airport, officials say.

“Measles is highly contagious, but it is also very preventable,” Dr. Francisco García, director and chief medical officer for the Pima County Health Department, said in a statement.

“Vaccines are the best prevention against such diseases. Not only do immunizations protect you and your family members, but as we have seen in this case in Maricopa County, it also helps to ensure that the rest of the community is protected.”

A 2008 Pima County measles outbreak was believed to have been caused by an unvaccinated Swiss tourist, 36 at the time. There were 13 confirmed cases and four probable, and the county paid more than $400,000 to contain the problem.

No one died of measles, but several patients had fever-related seizures and pneumonia, and many children had ear infections. 

Local residents concerned about this situation or who are interested in how to get vaccinated are encouraged to contact the local Health Department at 243-7797, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The measles virus can survive in the air for hours and can be transmitted even after an infected person is no longer in the room or area.

Public locations where and when people may have been exposed in the most recent case:

  • March 29 — Sky Harbor airport Terminal 4, 6:30 until 10 p.m.
  • March 30 — Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Cave Creek Chapel, 38008 N. Basin Road in Cave Creek (Cave Creek, Desert Ridge and Pinnacle Peak wards), 1 until 5 p.m.
  • March 31 — Wildflower Bread Co., 15640 N. Hayden Road in Scottsdale, noon until 5 p.m.; and Sky Harbor Terminal 4, 3 until 7 p.m.

Contact reporter Stephanie Innes at sinnes@azstarnet.com or 573-4134.