Measles case in Saskatchewan prompts public advisory

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Health officials have received confirmation of measles in an unimmunized infant who travelled by air to Saskatchewan in early January.

The infant’s family flew from the Philippines to Vancouver on Jan. 2, 2014, and then to Calgary and Regina on Jan. 7.  Passengers who were on the same flights as the family may have been exposed to measles. (See flight list below.) Those who develop symptoms are encouraged to call their health provider to seek immediate medical advice, particularly if they have not been immunized.

“Measles cases are quite uncommon in Saskatchewan, but this situation underscores the importance of vaccinations,” Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Denise Werker said. “The risk of exposure to highly contagious diseases can be particularly high during busy travel seasons, for people travelling within Canada as well as to and from countries experiencing measles outbreaks.”

Dr. Werker indicated that the infant is receiving treatment and recovering. The Ministry of Health is working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada and health officials in B.C. and Alberta to monitor the situation and take necessary action.

Saskatchewan has confirmed one other case of measles since the new year involving a person who had travelled from the Philippines; that case was not infectious during travel. Investigation of exposures that may have occurred within Saskatchewan have been completed by regional health authorities in accordance with disease prevention and control protocols.

Measles is a highly infectious and potentially serious disease that is easily transmitted through the air. Symptoms include high fever, cough and runny nose, followed by a rash. The rash often starts on the face before spreading to the rest of the body.

All travellers could unknowingly be exposed to people with measles. Measles occurs more frequently in countries outside of the Americas. For example, there are large outbreaks occurring in the Netherlands and the Philippines. Parents with infants six to 12 months of age should consider having these infants vaccinated prior to travel and seeking travel advice about other diseases that may pose a risk to the health of family members.

Two doses of measles vaccine are required for maximum protection. Measles vaccination is usually offered in combination with mumps and rubella in one vaccine at 12 months and again at 18 months.

For information on measles symptoms, treatment and vaccination, the public can call HealthLine at 811, or visit www.saskatchewan.ca/live/health-and-healthy-living/prevention-and-treatment/measles.

People planning travel outside the Americas are advised to check their immunization records to ensure their measles vaccinations are up to date. Information on countries experiencing a resurgence of measles is available through the World Health Organization at www.who.int/immunization/monitoring_surveillance/burden/vpd/surveillance_type/active/measles_monthlydata/en/index.html.

 

Flights:

Thursday, January 2, 2014:

Philippine Airlines PR116 - Manila to Vancouver (Arrived 16:30)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014:

West Jet 544 - Vancouver to Calgary (Departed 08:00, Arrived 10:25)

WestJet 314 - Calgary to Regina (Departed 12:05, Arrived 14:30)

Organizations: Ministry of Health, Public Health Agency of Canada, World Health Organization

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Philippines, Vancouver Calgary Regina Canada Americas B.C. Alberta Netherlands Manila

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