April 29, 2014 4:14 pm

Alberta declares measles outbreak

WATCH: Dr. Marcia Johnson, Edmonton Zone Medical Officer of Health, speaks about the zones affected by the outbreak.

CALGARY- With a total of 22 cases of measles now confirmed in the province, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is officially declaring a measles outbreak in Calgary, Edmonton and central Alberta.

“Basically we’ve had a month of confirmed measles cases in three zones,” says Dr. Judy MacDonald of AHS. “It doesn’t change how we’ve been handling our response to measles cases, but what it does mean is that we have cases showing up and we can’t identify the source.”

We need to look at additional measures that can provide protection.

AHS is now making new recommendations on measles vaccinations.

WATCH: Health Specialist Heather Yourex updates the situation in Calgary


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Effective immediately, infants between six months and 11 months of age who are either living or travelling to measles zones, are eligible for an early dose of measles vaccine.

Children routinely receive measles vaccinations when they are one-year-old and between the ages of four and six. The additional shot will give infants between six and 11 months old added short-term protection because they may no longer be protected by maternal antibodies.

MacDonald warns that infants infected with measles are at an increased risk of complications, which can include pneumonia, hospitalization, and even death. 

The province says it will announce plans on Wednesday for special immunization clinics for babies and young children.  For more information visit: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/9842.asp

AHS also says children aged four and up who are attending daycares or schools within the measles zones and who have not yet received their second dose of vaccine, should get it as soon as possible.

MacDonald says this will allow the children to remain in their school or daycare in the event of a measles case.

READ MORE: Measles clinics announced in Calgary

AHS is advising all Albertans to make sure their immunizations are up to date.

Of the 22 confirmed cases of measles so far, nine have been in Calgary, six in Edmonton and seven in central Alberta.

The province believes there may be other cases that have gone unreported.

READ MORE: 6 vaccination myths debunked

Here are some frequently asked questions about measles:

What causes measles?

  • Measles disease is caused by a virus.
  • This virus infects humans, causing measles disease in anyone who is not immunized or who has not previously had measles.

What are the symptoms of measles?

  •  Fever 38.3° C or higher
  •  Cough, runny nose or red eyes
  • Red blotchy rash appearing three to seven days after fever starts, beginning behind the  ears and on the face and spreading down to the body and then to the arms and legs.

Is measles contagious?

  •  Measles is extremely contagious.
  •  The potential spread of measles is a serious health concern.

Am I at risk for measles? If you have not had lab-confirmed measles in the past, or have not received measles vaccine, you are at risk for illness. People born before 1970 are generally considered immune. How does measles spread?

  • As an airborne disease, measles is spread through the air.
  • Measles can survive up to two hours in the air, even if the contagious person has left the space.
  • Measles can also be spread through coughing and sneezing.

You can find more Common Questions About Measles in Alberta here.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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