Measles cases rise in the eastern Fraser Valley

Warnings issued for Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Hope.

  • Aug. 8, 2013 6:00 p.m.

The measles virus has cropped up in the eastern Fraser Valley.

Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer is warning about the rise in measles cases in the eastern Fraser Valley.

Dr. Paul Van Buynder said the most recent case involves up to 60 women and newborns in a post-natal unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital being exposed to the virus by a visitor who was in the early infectious stage at the time.

Public health staff are contacting the affected families directly to offer immunoglobulin  to reduce the chance of the infection developing.

“The exposure of newborn children to this virus is a very concerning situation. They are too young to respond to the vaccine and some will not have received protection in utero from their mothers,” Buynder said.

He said this comes after a recent death of a child from pertussis, another vaccine-preventable disease.

“It is a timely reminder that not vaccinating children can have consequences for other vulnerable infants.”

Buynder said he encourages everyone who has not yet been vaccinated against measles to contact their doctor or health provider to receive the free vaccine.

Communities that could be impacted include Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Hope.

Buynder said relatively low immunization rates in some parts of Fraser East have led to several clusters of the virus in previous years; the most recent being in April 2010 shortly after the Olympic Games.

In June of this year, health officials issued a similar warning for Metro Vancouver.

He said the most effective protection against the virus is two doses of the vaccine, which is free to all those born after 1957.

If residents suspect they have been exposed or have developed symptoms, they should see their doctor and notify the office before arriving in order to prevent the spread of the disease to others at the clinic, he added.

WHAT IS MEASLES?

Measles (red measles) is an illness caused by the measles virus. Measles is very contagious and can be a severe illness in those lacking previous exposure to the disease or without adequate immunizations.

Measles spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes. The virus can survive in small droplets in the air for several hours.

Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, and red and inflamed eyes (often sensitive to light).

These are followed 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.

Among the most serious potential complications is brain inflammation (encephalitis), which occurs in approximately one in 1,000 cases. Other complications, such as pneumonia, are common.

Measles can cause brain damage, blindness and deafness. Approximately one in 3,000 cases are fatal.

Health care providers are reminded that measles is a reportable condition which requires immediate notification to public health. Doctors should be alert to measles if they see kids or adults with a rash, fever, cough and sore eyes.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU/YOUR CHILD DEVELOPS SYMPTOMS?

If you/your child has fever and a rash that you think may be measles, you should be examined by a doctor.

Call ahead so that you can be seen quickly and not expose other people by sitting in a waiting room for any period of time.

You may also be examined in an isolation room (if available) and given a mask to wear, or, arrangements may be made for you to attend the clinic at a time when the waiting room is empty. Bring your/your child’s immunization record with you.

MEASLES VACCINE

MMR is the vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. All individuals born after 1957 should be given two doses of measles-containing vaccine after one year of age.

There is no charge for the vaccination. People born before 1957 are likely immune because measles outbreaks were common at that time and they do not need to be immunized.

To make an appointment for immunization, contact your local health unit during regular business hours.

For more information on measles, call HealthLink BC at 811 or click here.

 

Just Posted

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

First court date in Chilliwack for man accused of murdering Belgian tourist

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance Wednesday

Another successful year for Chilliwack’s ‘We Got Your Back’ backpack program

Sponsored by local businesses, program stocks backpacks with school supplies for students in need

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read