Check immunization records for measles: Island Health

Washington State outbreak has officials urging Islanders to be proactive

A 3D representation of a measles virus. Image courtesy Center for Disease Control

Island Health is encouraging all residents to check their vaccination records following an outbreak of measles in Washington state that prompted its governor to declare a state of emergency.

Dr. Charmaine Enns, medical health officer for Island Health, said while the measles is a serious infection, it is vaccine-preventable.

“Before the vaccine, (measles) was quite common but serious. As we vaccinate, sometimes we lose seriousness of the infection. This is a disease that is serious; it can cause infections or pneumonia.”

She added there is a one in 1,000 chance of measles causing encephalitis (brain inflammation), while the death rate for the disease is one in 3,000.

As of Jan. 28, there have been 36 confirmed cases of the measles in Washington state since the beginning of the year.

On Monday, Washington public health officials confirmed two cases of measles in Hawaii were in unvaccinated children who travelled from the state to Hawaii.

Measles is highly infectious and spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing, as well as respiratory secretions, said Enns.

Measles symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed a few days later by a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the chest. It is important to note people with measles can infect others prior to the onset of symptoms like fever and rash.

As a result of the number of incidents in the neighboring state and the close proximity to B.C., the BC Centre for Disease Control has issued a warning to British Columbians following the outbreak.

RELATED: Measles outbreak in Washington state spurs warning from BC Centre for Disease Control

Enns explained if residents are fully vaccinated, there is generally little to worry about.

She added there are exceptions for individuals such as those who’ve had bone marrow transplants or have recently gone through chemotherapy; those residents may have to be re-immunized.

If someone cannot find their immunization records, she encourages residents to check with their doctor but said it would be simply a wasted dose if vaccinated twice.

The measles vaccine is available as a combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and is available from a local health unit, family doctor and many pharmacists.

“The purpose of the vaccine is twofold: to prevent the disease and to reduce the transmission,” she explained.

In B.C., children receive two doses of measles-containing vaccine during routine immunization, with the first at 12 months of age and the second at four years of age or school entry.

Adults born before Jan. 1, 1970 are generally assumed to have acquired immunity to measles from natural infection; however, there may be a small number of susceptible individuals born before 1970 who do not have a history of measles disease. For health care workers, Enns noted those born in 1957 or later, who do not have evidence of immunity measles, need two doses of a measles-containing vaccine. Those born before 1957 are considered immune to the disease.

“You really don’t want to get measles to develop a natural immunity, because there is a chance you can die; you want to be protected,” said Enns.

To date, no cases have been reported in B.C. related to the Washington state outbreak, but travellers to affected communities are at risk of exposure, said Enns.

There have been outbreaks in Western Europe within the past year, and anytime travel is involved, there is a chance of spreading the disease. There was a case of the measles reported during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

The last large outbreaks of measles in B.C. were in 2014 and 2010.

To find a public health unit anywhere in the province, see the site finder on ImmunizeBC.ca.

Just Posted

RCMP urges community to report crimes as theft from vehicles continues

Ladysmith RCMP confirmed a group of teens were seen trying to break into a vehicle on Thetis drive

Nanaimo-Vancouver ferry sets sail again after delay

B.C. Ferries says Queen of Oak Bay was held in dock earlier due to staffing issues

Graveyard shift being axed at Chemainus sawmill

Western Forest Products move comes on the heels of current union contract’s expiration

LRCA low-income housing project ‘months away’ from on-site work

The project will provide 36 units for three main groups: seniors, families, and disabled people

Three students double recipients of major awards at Chemainus Secondary

Pachet, Ngenda and Simpson the school’s biggest honourees

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Most Read