Inside look at Valley lab IDing measles cases

Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-08 09:21:01-04

There's an exact science behind the current Arizona measles outbreak and ABC15 got a look at the lab responsible for identifying cases.

RELATED: Officials confirm 1st case of measles in Maricopa County, total now at 14

Lab coats, goggles, you name it, there are no chances taken at the Arizona Department of Health Services lab.  

"Measles is one of the most contagious diseases that we have, you can walk into a room two hours after a measles case has left, breathe the air, and get measles," said Dr. Cara Christ the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Director Christ says the state of the art lab is testing throat swabs, blood and urine for signs of measles. Samples are double and tripled checked. 

"We are humans, we have DNA, and RNA, so do viruses," Christ said. "And so it's their genetic code that we are specifically looking for." 

As of Tuesday, 50 samples including 10 just today have been analyzed. 

"We just check to make sure everything looks good, and then we actually just put it in our machine," said Kate Fitzpatrick, a scientist at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Fitzpatrick demonstrated one of the high tech machines used to test samples. In about two hours, the computer makes a graphic showing a positive test. 

The lab has been testing non-stop since the outbreak and there's no end in sight. The most recent case is the first confirmed sign of measles in Maricopa County during this outbreak which started in May.