UPDATE: Chilliwack measles outbreak prompts health warning

A measles outbreak in a Chilliwack school has Fraser Health urging residents who may have been exposed to the virus not to travel

Two cases of measles have been confirmed at Mount Cheam Christian School with fear of several more in the Eastern Fraser Valley.

The private school, located in East Chilliwack, was closed as of Monday as a result.

“We are currently dealing with a number of confirmed cases of measles in our school community,” school administrator Stephen Hoogendijk told The Progress Monday morning. “For this reason, we made our spring break start [Monday] instead of this Wednesday and have frequent contact with Fraser Health in order to discuss what should be done.”

CTV Vancouver reported Monday evening the two confirmed cases were the children of school principal Jan Neels.

When contacted by The Progress, Neels referred all questions to Fraser Health.

The Chilliwack public school district has confirmed the measles outbreak is not related to any of its schools.

The measles outbreak, which first came to light late last week, has Fraser Health’s chief medical officer urging Chilliwack residents who may have been exposed to the virus not to travel during spring break.

Dr. Paul Van Buynder said two cases have been confirmed so far and Fraser Health is following up on about 100 suspected cases in the Eastern Fraser Valley.

Fraser Health said the cases occurred “in a community with traditionally low immunization rates.”

Mount Cheam Christian School, led by the Reformed Congregation of North America, a subset of the Reformed Congregation of the Netherlands, opposes vaccinations for religious beliefs.

The relatively low immunization rates has led to several clusters of the highly contagious virus in previous years; the most recent being in the fall of 2013.

“We are urging individuals who may have been exposed to the virus to contact their local public health unit to be cleared before traveling during spring break,” said Dr. Van Buynder.

“The potential for this virus to spread as a result is very concerning.”

Measles is an infection of the respiratory system, and is highly contagious. It is most serious for infants, who die at a rate of one for every 3,000 infections in developed countries.

Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red and inflamed eyes, and rash.

The most effective protection against the virus is two doses of the vaccine which is free to all those born in or after 1957.

In 2008, the same Chilliwack community was linked to a mumps outbreak.

The provincial government is watching closely.

Health Minister Terry Lake said he has not yet considered making vaccinations mandatory for school-aged children, as other provinces have, despite some schools in the Fraser Valley reporting no vaccinations at all.

“At this time we’re not going down that road, but we certainly want the public to be very aware of the importance of vaccination, and get the rates back up where they should be,” said Lake.

Public Health staff has contacted the affected families directly to offer immunoglobulin or vaccine in order to reduce the chance of the infection developing.

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

~ with files from Tom Fletcher

Just Posted

Auditors couldn’t tell if Fraser Health executives bought booze on taxpayers’ dime

Review from 2014 says one administrator bought Bose headphones on company credit card

Experts detect risk of rock avalanche above Bridal Falls near Chilliwack

Risk in the one-in-10,000-year is minimal but triggers FVRD to direct growth elsewhere

VIDEO: Olympic medalist teaches swimming in Hope

Brent Hayden fondly remembers local swim meet from his youth

Metro gas prices hit 155.7 cents a litre and higher

Lower Mainland could see 1.60 cents by April

Free parking not in the cards for Fraser Valley hospitals

Chair says board may look at ways to make parking easier, but not free

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Lower Mainland rabbits confirmed killed by highly-infectious virus

Feral colony on Annacis Island in Delta died from hemorrhagic disease. Pet rabbits could be at risk

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Okanagan Falls winery showing international photo project

Liquidity Wines will be sole Canadian show of National Geographic’s Photo Ark

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

Online threat to U.S. high school traced to Canadian teen

A 14-year-old girl has been charged in connection with an online threat against a high school

Vaping device overheats, burns down home on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo Fire Rescue says units could cause fires in other homes and even aircraft

Most Read