March 15, 2014 4:25 pm

Chilliwack measles outbreak spreads to BCIT

Fraser Health is working with BCIT to alert students of possible measles exposure after another case  related to the Chilliwack outbreak was identified in one of their students.

According to the health authority, the student was on the Burnaby campus to write their exams on March 6 and 7. BCIT is working in conjunction with Fraser Health to notify 128 students who may have had the greatest chance of exposure. 

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“We sent individualized emails to each of the 128 people,” Dave Pinton, BCIT media relations said. “And also sent our student body – 14,000 students – an email on what they can do in case they have symptoms and whta they can do to protect themselves and community.”

READ MORE: Fraser Health warns about the spread of measles into general community

The Fraser Health Authority says any students who were in classes in building NE1 at the Burnaby BCIT campus on March 6 or 7 can return to school on March 17, if they have one of the following: two documented doses of MMR vaccine, they were born before 1970 or if they have had measles in the past. 

“We’ve been lucky so far in that we’ve had 100 cases of measles that have been in older children, which tend to handle it much better,” said Paul Van Buynder, Fraser Health Authority, chief medical health officer.

“We’re hopeful that most of the students on campus are immune and won’t be a portal to spreading it to the community. But we know there is a chance some haven’t had the vaccine. And that’s why we’re putting the message out to them to make sure they don’t become the start of the next wave through this community.”

People with symptoms of measles are asked to keep themselves isolated at home. Van Buynder said adults can get vaccinated at their local pharmacy in the Fraser Valley and for children, they should call public health or consult their general practitioner.

According to the World Health Organization, measles remains one of the major killers of children across the developing world.

As Van Buynder explained, Canada was declared measles-free roughly 10 to 15 years ago but the disease is now making a comeback with the latest national figures in 2011 showing we had 750 cases.

“This is the second outbreak in two years in Fraser East and people need to understand these are nasty diseases if they don’t vaccinate their kids.”

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