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Southern Arizona officials warn about measles exposure at airport

PHOENIX – Officials in southern Arizona are warning that a tourist with measles exposed the public to the highly contagious disease earlier this week.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday the exposure occurred from 6 a.m. to 10:40 a.m. Monday at Tucson International Airport.

“We know that they were contagious at the time,” Christ said.

Anybody who was at the Tucson airport during that time and isn’t vaccinated should watch for symptoms, which include high fever, cough, runny nose, red watery eyes and a rash.

Christ said to call your health care provider to schedule an appointment, don’t just show up, if you have symptoms.

“Because calling first and letting them know that you have been exposed to measles and you are developing symptoms will help them identify a time where you can come in and you won’t expose other people that may be more vulnerable to measles,” she said.

Symptoms usually start seven to 12 days after exposure but could take up to 21 days to appear.

There have been more than 700 reported measles cases nationwide this year, the most since there were 963 in 1994.

There has been only one in Arizona, in early March. The tourist’s case gets counted in the person’s home state of New York, Christ said.

“If you are not immunized, now is a great time to go get your measles-mumps-rubella vaccine,” Christ said.

“If you are unsure, talk to your health care provider because they can usually walk through to determine if you have a high likelihood that you’ve been vaccinated.”

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