Although the outbreak started with two inmates of a detention facility, more people at the facility have contracted the disease and a list of locations released by public health officials has grown to cover stores and restaurants during the course of a week. Photo by AuntSpray/Shutterstock
ELOY, Ariz., May 31 (UPI) -- Public health officials in Arizona have expanded the number of places residents in two counties may have been exposed to measles, and the number of confirmed cases has risen to 11.
The number of measles cases in Maricopa and Pinal counties in Arizona has grown significantly in the last week, since two people at a private detention center were confirmed to have the highly contagious disease.
Calling it an "evolving situation," state health officials expanded a list of potential public exposures at stores and restaurants between May 18 and May 27, one day after officials announced the measles cases, according to a press release.
"The trouble with measles is that people are contagious before they know they have it -- which can result in exposure to others," Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, wrote in a blog post. "These confirmed cases greatly increase the chances that we will continue to have additional cases in the coming days and weeks."
Measles is a viral disease spread in the air through coughing or sneezing, with droplets staying in the air for up to two hours. The disease starts with a fever and cough, eye redness and a rash, and officials are asking that anyone with these symptoms go to the hospital for proper treatment to contain the outbreak.
Aside from the first two patients, state officials say they have confirmed other cases inside and outside the jail, with people potentially exposed to measles at a Walmart, Denny's, Ross and Golden Corral, among other places included on the list.
"This is an evolving situation, and given how contagious measles is, public health will continue to update our communities on places of potential exposure," Christ said. "People who have a rash and fever must call their healthcare provider or emergency department before going to let them know they may have measles. This is vital to help stop the further spread of the disease."