Alberta Health Services says several families are under quarantine and they suspect there are more cases in the community they’re not aware of.
101 people have been assessed at the Measles Assessment Centre outside Chinook Regional Hospital.
In all 19 cases, none of those people were immunized.
“All cases to date that have been confirmed have not had any doses of measles containing vaccine.” says Dr. Vivien Suttorp with Alberta Health Services, South Zone.
Patients who have contracted measles in the south zone are between the ages of 4-years-old and 23-years-old.
Some of those people had complications that required further treatment.
AHS started targeting communities with low immunization numbers in September, encouraging health care workers and parents to immunize their children.
“We tried to target communities in Fort Macleod, Coaldale and Picture Butte as high risk communities where we are most likely to get Measles disease, this is exactly the communities we have seen disease, so our predictions were right,” Says Dr. Suttorp.
She adds the Lethbridge area will see more cases over the next few months, if not longer.
“Over time it might actually move from Lethbridge and Lethbridge County to other areas like Bow Island, Taber, maybe east or maybe north. All of Alberta, both Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services is in preparedness phases and making sure individuals are immunized,” says Dr. Suttorp.
With Christmas around the corner and many Canadians travelling for the holidays, AHS is advising anyone planning to visit southern Alberta to get immunized before coming.
Alberta Health Services says one dose of measles containing vaccine provides roughly ninety-five per cent protection.
The second vaccine gets you closer to one-hundred per cent protection and it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to work.
AHS is continuing to encourage anyone with young children from 6 to 12 months old or children over one year of age who have not been immunized to attend.
“We are also again offering this uniquely in southern Alberta for infants 6 to 12 months of age and that is unique here because we are in an outbreak. That is currently not happening elsewhere in the province and it is a outbreak dose, it is an extra dose offered to those with little babies 6 to 12 months because at that point there is little, if any natural immunity left from mom. The babies under 6 months have some protection through maternal transmission of antibodies, but by 6 months that is usually gone,” says Dr. Suttorp.
Provincially there’s an Emergency Coordinating Committee set up within Alberta Health Services to coordinate all the zones across the province in a planning phase, to look at communities with low immunization rates.
Dr. Suttorp added there are other provinces dealing with measles, including B.C and Ontario.
Most recently Saskatchewan had at least one suspected case and officials say it has links to the Netherlands, similar to the first confirmed case reported in southern Alberta.
Two more Measles Immunization Clinics have been added:
Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 2 to 7 p.m., Lethbridge Exhibition Park, Main Pavilion (use south entrance)
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 2 to 7 p.m., Lethbridge Exhibition Park, Main Pavilion (use south entrance)