Multiple cases of measles and mumps are confirmed in Arizona

Ryan Batholomew, staff writer

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The Arizona Department of Health Services issued a release in early March confirming a case of measles in the state. The Pima County Public Health Department is investigating potential community exposure of the disease after a 12-month-old infant was diagnosed March 6.

“We are working with our health-care and public health partners to make sure we quickly identify any possible exposures to the community that may have occurred,” said Pima County Health Department Director, Marcy Flanagan.

Another vaccine-preventable disease, mumps, was also confirmed in Cochise County. The laboratory-confirmed case was reported at Elfrida Elementary School. The student who contracted the disease had not been vaccinated in the past.

Washington State experienced an outbreak of at least 58 confirmed cases of measles in January and February. This caused Governor Jay Inslee to declare a State of Emergency and introduction of legislation fighting the anti-vaccination movement that has resulted in the resurgence of the disease in the developed world.

“I think the leading cause of the outbreak was caused by unvaccinated individuals. Mumps is easily preventable by the vaccine, but since some parents believe that vaccines are damaging or, absurdly, that they can cause autism, kids are going out to public places with viruses that can spread and evolve,” said Falon Squier, a sophomore.

The principle being used when parents choose not to vaccinate their children is called herd immunity. While herd immunity is incredibly effective, it is not a 100 percent surefire way to prevent the spread of disease.

“Take a herd of cattle, for example. Say you have two that aren’t immunized. They will be protected by the others around them that are immunized. But when the population of those who cannot be vaccinated for whatever reason may come up, it only takes one to bring the virus in and cause it to spread to all the others that are not immunized,” said Linda Killingbeck, the school nurse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus spread through the air by coughing or contact with infected secretions from the mouth, nose or throat. It is also spread when there is contact with an infected person’s saliva, such as with kissing, shared eating utensils, water bottles and other items that touch the mouth.

“It’s scary, people not wanting to get vaccinations for personal reasons like not wanting to support a certain pharmacy. They should be legally required to get vaccinations if they are going to public schools,” said Callahan Schwartz, a freshman.

Measles typically begins with high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots, called Koplik spots, may appear inside the mouth.

With the appearances of measles and mumps becoming more frequent in the past few years, it is more important than ever to be aware of those who are and are not vaccinated so that another outbreak does not occur.