The nation’s largest measles outbreak may, at least in part, be caused by the refusal of federal immigration detention center workers to get vaccinations. Arizona health officials have pinpointed one detention center as the focal point of the spreading virus.
Health officials in Arizona have confirmed at least twenty-two cases of measles in the state in the past two months. All of the cases have reportedly come from the Eloy Detention Center that is controlled by the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Astrod Galvan.
Thomas Schryer, health director for Pinal County, believes the outbreak most likely began with an immigrant being detained. Since that time, the detainees have all been vaccinated. However, some of the employees of the facility appear to be unwilling to get vaccinations and are apparently spreading the virus.
“And so they’re actually the ones that are passing along the measles among each other and then going out into the community,” Schryer said.
The Arizona Department of Health Services lists the following “exposure areas”:
- Sunday, June, 26, 2016
- Circle K, 495 S Arizona Blvd, Coolidge, AZ 85128, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Walmart, 1695 N Arizona Blvd, Coolidge, AZ 85128, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
- Dollar Tree, 1455 N Arizona Blvd, Coolidge, AZ 85228, from 1 to 4 p.m.
- Saturday, June, 25, 2016
- Circle K, 495 S Arizona Blvd, Coolidge, AZ 85128, from 7:30 to 11 a.m.
- Walmart, 1695 N Arizona Blvd, Coolidge, AZ 85128, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Thursday, June, 23, 2016
- Safeway, 1449 N Arizona Blvd, Coolidge, AZ 85128, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, June, 22, 2016
- Circle K, 495 S Arizona Blvd, Coolidge, AZ 85128, from 8 to 11a.m.
- Tuesday, June 21, 2016:
- Walgreens, 2785 N Pinal Ave, Casa Grande, AZ 85122, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Monday, June 20, 2016:
- Walgreens, 1514 E Florence Blvd, Casa Grande, AZ 85122, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Breitbart News Network’s Caroline May reported in May on the early stages of the outbreak where eleven cases of measles were tied back to the Eloy facility that is run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) for ICE.
“This is an evolving situation, and given how contagious measles is, public health will continue to update our communities on places of potential exposure,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said at the time in a prepared statement. “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.”
Since that time, the number of cases stemming from the Eloy facility have doubled.
CCA officials said they have instituted a policy that employees who refused vaccination must wear surgical masks or stay home. The organization said that most of its employees have been vaccinated or have shown proof of the same.
Dr. Christ confirmed to the LA Times that in the last few days, a large number of CCA employees have been vaccinated.
The highly contagious disease was eradicated in the United States in 2000. The malady has since re-appeared following an increase in vaccine refusals by people concerned about the possible side effects, including autism in children.
Arizona health officials are reportedly considering asking for a state of emergency declaration from Governor Doug Ducey. Dr. Christ said that may not be necessary; however, if the vaccinations slow the spread of the virus.
At least one staff member of the Eloy facility was hospitalized for four days due to measles complications which can be severe in adults. “To trigger a four-day stay in the hospitals,” Schryer told the LA Times, “you [have to] be pretty darn sick. It’s not really something to play with, and maybe they just underestimated the seriousness of it.”