Southern Arizona | Investigating 4 You

N4T Investigators: Monitoring Measles

TUCSON – State and local health officials are currently monitoring a measles case in Pima County.

The patient was diagnosed with the measles after traveling from Asia.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators wanted to find out what’s being done to stop the potential spread of the disease?

“The last time we had a case of measles in Pima County was 2015. Before that, we had an outbreak in 2008. That was, again, an individual who had traveled internationally, came back, and then there were 13 other cases connected to that individual,” said Paula Mandel, Pima County Health Department Deputy Director.

According to Pima County Health Department, the latest measles patient is a one-year-old.

State health officials say the child had recently traveled to Asia.

“Unfortunately, this family may not have been aware of the area that they were traveling that there had been cases of measles,” Mandel told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air when the infected person coughs or sneezes.

Measles can also be especially dangerous for young children.

“Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease, and we know the best method of protection for measles is to get vaccinated. It not only protects the child, the family, but it also protects the community,” Mandel said.

Protecting the community against infectious diseases is also a top priority for the Department of Homeland Security, including monitoring undocumented immigrants who are currently being detained in Arizona.

In fact, earlier this month several hundred immigrant detainees in Eloy were quarantined for exposure to mumps and chicken pox.

“They lack the same medical treatment that you and I and our families acquire. In the last 4 years we spent over $1,000,000 dollars providing medical care for the migrants that have reached our borders,” said Border Patrol Tucson Sector Chief Roy Villareal. “We have medical personnel that are now on-site, particularly here in Tucson. We have DHS medical doctors, nurses that are screening all the migrants that are coming into our custody.”

The Pima County Health Department also stays in contact with DHS about the potential spread of communicable diseases.

“If they are aware of, or if they have seen something in the individuals that are coming, or from the countries that they are coming from, they try to make sure that we are aware of the possibility, and thus far we haven’t seen anything in regards to that matter,” Mandel told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

For families who may be worried about potential vaccine side-effects, Pima County Health Department staff also works hard to be understanding.

“If a family chooses to refuse a vaccine, or if they would choose to say I want to get this vaccine today, but I don’t want to get this vaccine today, that’s fine. Our purpose is to really provide education and support, and them it’s up to them to make the choice that they’re comfortable with for their family, for their child,” Mandel told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Health officials say the bottom line is for people 12-months and older, getting vaccinated is the best defense against becoming the next measles patient.

“We love to provide vaccinations. We have three clinics where we provide immunizations for both children and adults.” Mandel told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Click here for more information about Pima County health department immunizations.

If you have something you would like the News 4 Tucson investigators to investigate, email us at or call the News 4 Tucson Investigators tip-line at (520) 955-4444.

Paul Birmingtham

Paul Birmingtham

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