Fraser Valley measles outbreak spreads to Burnaby's BCIT campus

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Measles / Shutterstock

Fraser Health is advising that measles cases now appear to be occurring in the general communities of Chilliwack and Agassiz; outside of the previous school and religious group areas.

Fraser Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Paul Van Buynder has confirmed one child has been admitted to hospital to date. He reminds all residents that the best protection against measles infection remains two doses of measles vaccine.

Meanwhile, BCIT students are being warned of a possible exposure to measles following a student who became sick from the Chilliwack outbreak. The student was at BCIT’s Burnaby campus on Thursday, March 6 and Friday, March 7 attending classes in Building NE1.

People with symptoms of measles are asked to isolate themselves at home. Anyone that is seriously ill is asked to contact their general practitioner, public health unit, or emergency department prior to arriving in order to prevent the spread of the disease to other vulnerable patients.

In 2013, there were 17 cases of measles reported in BC; several of these were among travelers returning from Thailand, the Netherlands, Philippines, and even those whose only apparent exposure was transit through Vancouver international airport.

Many countries of the world including the Philippines are experiencing a resurgence of measles, and anyone planning travel outside of the Americas should check their immunization record to ensure that they’re up to date on their measles vaccine.

Measles is caused by a highly infectious virus. The illness starts with a cough, runny nose and fever, and a rash that covers the face and body. Complications include pneumonia and encephalitis.

In BC, the measles vaccine is free:

  • It is recommended for children in a series of two doses given at 12 months and at 4-6 years of age.
  • Infants as young as 6 months of age should receive a dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) prior to travel to a measles endemic area.
  • The MMR vaccine should be administered in two doses for adults born on/after 1970.
  • Adults born prior to 1970 should be immunized with two doses if they are traveling to endemic parts of the world, or if they are health care workers, unless they have laboratory proof of measles immunity; otherwise most adults born prior to 1970 are assumed to be immune because of previous measles infection.

Featured Image: Sick with measles via Shutterstock

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