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AHS warns of potential measles exposure at Calgary airport, Alberta Children’s Hospital

Click to play video: 'Alberta Health Services issues public alert after possible measles exposures'
Alberta Health Services issues public alert after possible measles exposures
WATCH: Alberta Health Services has issued a public alert after a passenger on a recent Air Canada flight tested positive for measles. As Craig Momney reports, if the people who were exposed to the virus were not vaccinated, they could be a risk. – Nov 29, 2023

Alberta Health Services issued a public alert on Tuesday due to potential measles exposures in public settings in Calgary.

According to a news release, individuals in the following locations at the following times are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms:

  • Air Canada flight AC206 from Vancouver to Calgary, departed Vancouver International Airport on Nov. 23 at 11:20 a.m. MST and landed at 12:45 MST.
  • Calgary International Airport domestic arrivals from 12:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. on Nov. 23.
  • Alberta Children’s Hospital’s emergency department wait room from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Nov. 24.
  • Alberta Children’s Hospital’s emergency department wait room from 1:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Nov. 27.

The first symptoms of measles are a fever of 38 C or higher, a runny nose and a cough, according to Alberta Health Services. Red, blotchy rashes may appear three to seven days after the fever starts, beginning on the ears and face and spreading down to the body, arms and legs.

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Measles are extremely contagious and are a serious health concern, AHS said. Those who exhibit symptoms are asked to stay home and call HealthLink at 8-1-1 before visiting a health-care provider.

“Anyone who attended these locations at these times who either were born after 1970, or have less than 2 documented doses of measles-containing vaccine, may be at risk for developing measles,” the alert read.

“Anyone who attended these locations at these times is strongly encouraged to review their immunization records and call HealthLink 811 for advice.

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“Exposed people who have received fewer than 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine, who are pregnant, under one year of age, or have a weakened immune system are encouraged to contact Health Link as they may be eligible for medication to prevent measles.”

Dr. Dan Gregson, a physician at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, said vaccination is the most important way to prevent the disease from spreading. In Alberta, the measles vaccine is provided free of charge through the province’s publicly funded immunization program. Children usually get their first dose at 12 months and their second dose at 18 months.

Measles is the cause of approximately 100,000 deaths every year, he said. Those who are not immunized against the disease are at risk of catching the disease with long-lasting side effects.

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“There are some people who get brain damage and problems with thought processes and development,” Gregson told Global News.

“There are some people with pneumonia that damaged their lungs and they can get repeated episodes of infection.

“There’s also rare brain involvement that occurs five to 10 years after infection that’s similar to people with mad cow disease, where patients get dementia and die from that. But that’s relatively rare.”

Gregson added measles immunization around the world has declined from 2021 to 2022. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may have prevented many parents from getting their children immunized against the disease.

“If you’re shut down because of COVID and your child’s at the point where they need to be immunized, you may have missed those two doses. There’s catch-up that needs to go on,” he said.

“And with misinformation being circulated, many people are hesitant to get their children immunized. That’s another problem.”

However, many people who were exposed to measles will not be infected because they are vaccinated against the disease, he said.

“If you’ve been fully immunized, it’s not something you pick up and then pass on to somebody else,” he said.

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