Given that symptoms of measles can take up to 21 days to show, the February 12 and 13 exposure in locations around Edmonton and Leduc may still have spread to other Albertans who have yet to show signs of the virus.
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While post-exposure immunization is not effective for those who may have already contracted the virus, all Albertans are encouraged to get themselves vaccinated as a precaution against a potential outbreak down the line.
Most Albertans will have already received their two doses of the vaccination when they were 12 months old and between the ages of four to six, though there may be those whose parents chose not to immunize them as children.
Alberta Health Services offers free measles vaccinations for all Albertans, no matter their age, and anyone looking to get immunized against the virus can call 811 to speak to a registered nurse regarding where they can get the shots.
You can also find your closest public health or community health facility online through AHS’ online tool.
According to AHS, anyone born before 1970 is likely immune to the virus due to being exposed to wild-type measles prior to the measles vaccine being created — when the virus caused an estimated 2.6 million annual deaths worldwide.
AHS also notes that for every 1,000 people that get measles in a developed country (such as Canada), one or two will die from the virus.
Measles can also cause health problems including brain swelling, seizures, and hearing loss, alongside the usual symptoms of fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, and a red blotchy rash covering the entire body.
Those carrying the virus become contagious to others (spreading through the air and contaminating rooms up to two hours after the infected person had left) one day before symptoms begin to appear on the body, and roughly four to seven days before the tell-tale rash appears. This means that potentially infected people could be spreading the virus without knowing it, or while thinking they simply had a common cold or flu.
There is currently no treatment or cure for measles.
Some parents may not be vaccinating their children due to the myth that vaccinations could cause autism. Here is Alberta Health Services’ official response to that claim:
“No, vaccines do not cause autism. Research has found no link between vaccine and autism. You may have heard about Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon who suggested a link between autism and vaccine. What you may not have heard is that the research he published was found to be false, and Wakefield had his medical license taken away because of this. In January 2010, Britain’s statutory tribunal of the General Medical Council found Wakefield guilty of four counts of dishonesty and 12 counts involving the abuse of developmentally challenged children, as it pertained to his false research on autism.”
Some members of the community are not capable of getting the vaccination — due to being too young for the vaccine, currently undergoing cancer treatments, or having been transplant recipients — and rely on other, healthier people getting the vaccine to keep them safe against viruses like measles.
This is known as Herd Immunity and only works if 85% to 95% of the community has received their immunizations.
“By getting your child immunized, you’re arming your child against disease, AHS states, “and you’re also helping to protect and defend your vulnerable neighbours and your community as a whole.”