Southern Alberta Measles Outbreak – AHS Offering MMR Vaccinations

Nov 18, 2013Posted By: igorUnder: Health News, Infectious Disease

THIS JUST IN FROM ALBERTA HEALTH SERVICES, SOUTH ZONE:  If you are concerned that you do not have immunity to measles – that is, you have not been vaccinated or cannot confirm that you had measles or rubella as a child – Alberta Health South Zone, will be offering the MMR Vaccination at the Main Pavilion at the Lethbridge Exhibition Park on Wednesday, November 20th from 2:00pm to 7:00pm

Why the sudden concern about measles?

On October 29, 2013 Alberta Health Services announced 13 cases of measles have been confirmed and many more suspected cases are awaiting laboratory confirmation.

There are two types of measles and in the case of this measles outbreak refers only to rubella or “red” measles.   This form of measles is one of the most highly contagious diseases found world wide.

How can you prevent the spread of measles?
Vaccination rates of greater than 95% are needed to create “community” immunity which would slow the spread of measles.   Lethbridge County has a vaccination rate of only 61%, which means the measles outbreak can spread very quickly among those who are unvaccinated. The single most important way to prevent the spread of measles is to be immunized with the measles vaccine.

Alberta Health Services has opened measles vaccinations clinics in order to vaccinate those who have not yet been vaccinated.  The vaccine is typically given to infants 12 months and older; however during the outbreak parents of children aged 6 months and older will be able to choose to have their infants vaccinated.

How is measles spread?
Measles is so contagious because it is airborne, with about 90% of un-vaccinated people becoming infected after exposure to an infected person.  People can be infected and spread the virus for 1-2 days before they have any symptoms and continue to do so for 4 days after the rash appears.

What are the Symptoms of measles?
Initially symptoms resemble that of a cold or flu and include fever, runny nose and red eyes.   After a few days, a red blotchy rash starts appearing on the face and then quickly spreads to cover the entire body.

What are the complications of measles?
Measles can be very serious in some cases and cause ear infections, pneumonia, brain infections or death.

What should you do if you suspect someone has measles?
If you suspect you or a family member has measles DO NOT go to your doctor’s office or the hospital.  Call Health Link at 1-866-408-5465 and nurses will advise you on how to proceed.  Measles is passed on to others via airborne transmission so it is important to prevent that spread by isolating the person with measles from the general population.  This is why it is not recommended in this case, to take the infected person to the doctor’s office or hospital.  If a physician visit or  treatment in hospital is required,  infection control protocols must be followed.

Please visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/9236.asp for more information on clinics and procedures during this outbreak and follow us on Twitter @StaffordPharmRX for news updates on the measles outbreak as well as many other health topics important to you and your family.

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