Two vaccinated adults contract measles on Vancouver Island
Two cases of measles have been confirmed on Vancouver Island, according to Island Health.
The health authority said Friday that two people acquired the highly contagious infection while travelling in Vietnam and both sought care on the South Island. Both patients had received at least one vaccination for measles, according to officials.
“Based upon clinical management and prior immunization, we want to assure people that risk of transmission is extremely low,” said Island Health chief medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick.
The authority is now asking people who may have been exposed to measles to monitor for symptoms including fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, diarrhea and red eyes. Anyone who has them is asked to contact their local health care provider to prevent transmitting the disease to others.
Exposures may have occurred at the following locations and times:
- o March 6 – 5 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Royal Jubilee Hospital, Emergency Department
- o March 8 – 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m. - Royal Jubilee Hospital, Outpatient clinic
- o March 9 – 8:36 p.m.-11:30 p.m. - Royal Jubilee Hospital, Emergency Department
Stanwick said Island Health initially identified 117 people who may have been at risk, but whittled that list down to around two-dozen people whose immunization statuses are unclear.
The authority is contacting those people to determine whether they're at risk.
Stanwick also said there were two people who came into "very close" contact with both of the measles patients who had been vaccinated for the disease, and neither became ill.
"I think that's probably the message to take away, that if you're immunized, that's your best protection," he said.
He also recommended anyone travelling to foreign countries to check how active the measles virus is in those areas, specifically mentioning the Philippines and southeast Asia as two areas where the disease has been flaring up.
The two cases of measles come after several confirmed cases in the Lower Mainland and B.C.'s Interior. In the Fraser Valley, there have been 17 cases in total in recent weeks, with many of those being students who contracted measles while travelling.
The area of Vietnam where the two patients are believed to have acquired measles is "likely" the same area where individuals in Vancouver recently contracted the disease, Stanwick said.
The outbreak has put a spotlight on the so-called anti-vaxxer movement and prompted the province to move ahead with a plan to have all students provide proof of immunization in B.C. schools beginning next year.
Island Health said in the past four weeks, it has administered a total of 2,966 measles vaccinations, more than double than the previous year's total.
The two new cases of measles come after several confirmed cases in the Lower Mainland and B.C.'s Interior. In the Fraser Valley, there have been 17 cases in total in recent weeks, with many of those infected students who contracted measles while travelling.
The province has responded by launching a "catch-up" program to get students immunized who aren't already. It will run from April to June with vaccines being administered in health clinics and mobile units.
Provincial health officials recommend two doses of measles vaccine for children.