After the governor of Washington declared a state of emergency in connection with a measles outbreak on January 25, BC residents travelling south of the border are being warned to take proper precautions to prevent infection.
And while the BC Centre Disease for Disease Control (BCCDC) said that at this point, there have been no BC cases reported in connection with the outbreak, it is still advising those planning on travelling to the affected communities that they are at potential risk of exposure to the virus.
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“Measles is highly infectious and spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing, as well as respiratory secretions,” said the BCCDC. “The best protection against measles is vaccination.”
In light of the outbreak in Washington, the BCCDC is advising British Columbians to review and update their immunization status at any time, and especially prior to any travel. The measles vaccine is available as a combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and is available from your local health unit, family doctor, and many pharmacists.
BC typically experiences a few cases of measles each year, usually among under-vaccinated travellers returning from parts of the world where measles is still common. In 2018, six cases of measles were reported among BC residents: two cases acquired infection during travel out of Canada (India and Philippines, respectively), and four acquired infection from imported cases.
To date, a single case of measles was reported in BC in 2019 in an adult traveller returning from the Philippines.