Vancouver, BC – A case of measles infection has been confirmed in Vancouver. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Medical Health Officers determined that this infection was acquired locally. This is the second case of measles in Vancouver this month. The first case was acquired abroad.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that spreads through the air. Close contact is not needed for transmission. The disease can also be spread through sharing food, drinks, cigarettes, or kissing an infected person.
Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes, followed a few days later by a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the chest. Complications from measles can include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), convulsions (seizures), deafness, brain damage, and death. An infected person can spread measles before knowing they have been infected. People are infectious to others from four days before to four days after the onset of rash.
Two doses of measles vaccine are 99 per cent effective at preventing measles. Most cases now occur in those born after 1970 and who have had no doses or only one dose of measles vaccine.
People born before January 1, 1970 and those who have had measles are likely immune. Those born between 1970 and 1994, or grew up outside of B.C., may have had only one dose of measles vaccine and need a second dose to be fully protected. Those born after 1970 who are not fully immunized with two doses of a measles vaccine, and who have not had measles disease in the past, should receive a dose of measles mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. You can get the vaccine for free at your local community health centre, or the City Centre Urgent Primary Care Centre. Your family doctor and your pharmacist (for adults and kids over five) may also have the vaccine available.
VCH has notified people who were in contact with the case, and urged under-vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals among them to be immunized. As per British Columbia's measles control guidelines individuals who are not immune to measles may not attend school until the period of transmission has passed (February 28th).
For more information on measles visit the VCH website.