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Case of measles confirmed in Edmonton Zone

EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services (AHS) has confirmed a case of measles in the Edmonton Zone.

AHS says individuals who were at the following locations, on the dates and times noted, may have been exposed to “the highly contagious disease” that is spread easily through the air:

March 25, 2014

West End Registries (10011 170 St NW, Edmonton) from 7:40 am to 10:00 pm

Safeway at Callingwood (6655 178th St, Edmonton) from 8:30 pm to 10:50 pm

March 26, 2014

West End Registries (10011 170 St NW, Edmonton) from 7:40 am to 8:40 pm

“Of all communicable diseases measles  likely has the highest potential for transmission,” said Dr. Christopher Sikora, Edmonton Medical Officer of Health for AHS.

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“Measles transmits very effectively from a person who is infectious to a susceptible individual or person who is not protected. That transmission rate may be in the range of 50 per cent to 90 per cent.”

Typically, the disease will develop about 10 days after exposure, but it can take up to three weeks for symptoms to show up.  If you have been infected, you will be highly contagious before the symptoms even appear.

AHS says for adults to be protected, two doses of the measles vaccine are recommended; and one dose for infants over the age of 12 months until they get another shot when they’re four to six years of age. But AHS also says that no vaccine is 100 per cent effective.

Those who have been exposed to the disease, and have not already had it or the required doses of the vaccine will be at greater risk for contracting it.

These individuals are being told to monitor themselves for symptoms of measles, which include: a fever of 38.3° C or higher, a cough, runny nose and/or red eyes, and a red blotchy rash that appears 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.

Anyone who has the symptoms is advised to stay home and call Health Link Alberta (1.866.408.5465) before visiting any health care facility or provider.

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“Most of the time, people with measles will be just fine. But 1 in 20 will get pneumonia; but even in developed countries like Canada, 1 in 1000 will die,” said Sikora.

“Kids getting pneumonia, seizures, inflammation around the brain is unacceptable,” he added, “especially when we have a vaccine that can prevent that hardship.”

The disease tends to be most severe in infants and adults.

This year there have been nine confirmed cases in Alberta so far (five of them have been in Calgary, three in central Alberta, and one in Edmonton).  In 2013, there were 44 cases, one of which happened in Calgary and the rest in the Lethbridge area.

AHS says most health care workers should be protected against measles; but the vaccine is not actually mandatory for them; a shot against rubella, however, is and is offered in a triple vaccine which also protects against measles.

Alberta Health Services – Measles Disease: Q & A

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