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Health official optimistic Valley avoided measles outbreak

PHOENIX — Local health experts are cautiously optimistic that Valley residents were not infected by an unvaccinated European traveler who was sick with the measles.

“So far, so good,” said Dr. Bob England with Maricopa County Public Health. “I’m surprised. I’m really happy about it.”

The infected man visited several public places during his stay at the end of March. The typical incubation period for the illness is 21 days, however health experts don’t declare a health victory until a few days after the second incubation period passes.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” said England. “Keep your fingers crossed.”

Measles is one of the most contagious diseases known to man and the virus can survive in the air even several hours after an infected person has left the area. The vaccine-preventable disease is spread through coughing, sneezing, and contact with secretions from the nose, mouth and throat of an infected individual.

Symptoms include red, watery eyes, cough and a runny nose. Many patients don’t suspect the condition is more than a typical cold until they develop a red, raised and blotchy rash which first appears on the face at the hairline and spreads downward.

According to Maricopa County Public Health, the infected traveler was in the following public areas during his stay:

• March 29: Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Terminal 4 from 6:30 p.m. 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) from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

• March 31: Wildflower Bread Company, 15640 N. Hayden Road in Scottsdale from noon until 5 p.m.

• March 31: Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Terminal 4 from 3 p.m until 7 p.m.

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