Following eight confirmed cases of measles in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) said on Friday that two additional cases have now been identified.
And while it said that one of these infections is linked to a previously known case of measles, the source of the second infection has not been identified and is under investigation.
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“For the majority of people who may have been in contact with confirmed cases it is too late to take preventative action and we are asking them to monitor for symptoms,” said VCH in a statement. “If you develop symptoms of measles, contact your health care provider. Please call ahead to make sure precautions can be taken to prevent transmission of measles to others.
In total, there have now been 10 cases of measles associated with the current outbreak.
One unrelated measles case was identified in Vancouver earlier this month, and since a potential community transmission of measles has now been identified, there is an increased chance of further unidentified exposures in the community. A number of specific public venues where people could have been exposed to measles have now been identified.
Those spaces include the Canada Line, a McDonald’s in Squamish, and a spa in Whistler:
There are other locations where people may have possibly been exposed and VCH staff have been directly notifying them.
Those who are unimmunized or incompletely immunized are at highest risk. Two doses of measles vaccine are 99 per cent effective at preventing measles.
In a press conference earlier this week, Dr. Althea Hayden said that a total of 33 kids who weren’t able to provide proof they had been vaccinated against the measles were ordered to stay home from school.
People who are at high risk of severe illness (pregnant women, immune compromised, and those under one year of age) can also get a medicine called immune globulin that reduces the risk of severe illness if given within six days of exposure. Measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine given within three days of exposure can also provide some protection.
Symptoms of measles:
Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, and red and inflamed eyes (often sensitive to light), typically starting seven to 14 days after exposure.
These are followed three to seven days later by a rash, which starts first on the face and neck, and spreads to the chest, arms and legs, and lasts at least three days. You may also notice spots inside your mouth that look like small grains of sand on a red base.
- Check your immunization records to make sure you and your children have had two doses of the measles vaccine (MMR or MMRV). Your immunization record or your doctor can provide you with this information. Adults 18 years of age and older, born in or after 1970 require two doses of measles vaccine; children 12 months to less than 18 years of age, health care workers and adults attending post-secondary institutions are required to have two doses; those born before 1970 are generally considered immune.
- If your immunization record is not up-to-date, contact your local public health unit.
- Infants under one year of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems can get very ill with measles and should contact their health care professional immediately for further assessment.
- Watch for symptoms of measles until 21 days after exposure. These include a high fever, cold-like symptoms (cough/runny nose); sore eyes or sensitivity to light; small spots with a white centre on the inside of the mouth; and a red rash lasting four to seven days.