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Measles Outbreak at Immigration Detention Center in Arizona

Measles is highly contagious, and it produces fever and rash in susceptible people who become infected.
Measles is highly contagious, and it produces fever and rash in susceptible people who become infected.
Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

On June 7, 2016, the Arizona Department of Health confirmed the 14th case of measles amidst an outbreak at Eloy Immigration Detention Center in Arizona. All cases – 13 in Pinal County and one in Maricopa – have been individuals connected to the Detention Center, either detainees or workers for the private facility.

Eloy Detention Center belongs to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the oldest and largest for-profit system of prisons and detention centers. The 1,596-bed facility in Eloy houses detainees for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The outbreak initiated when an infected inmate was brought to the facility, and the illness quickly spread to inmates and guards.

Measles is a viral infectious disease that affects the respiratory system. The disease is very contagious and can be spread through contact with infected mucus and saliva. The virus can live on surfaces for several hours.

Measles infects primarily unvaccinated people. Symptoms include cough, fever, red eyes, muscle aches and sore throat. A widespread skin rash is a classic sign of measles.

The Arizona Department of Health Services is working with county officials to try to identify people exposed outside the facility.

While CCA is a multi-billion-dollar corporation, it has also become controversial for its cost-cutting policies that undermine detainees’ and guards’ health and safety.