Measles outbreak confirmed after 7 cases diagnosed in Halifax
A total of seven cases of measles have been confirmed in Halifax, just over a week after three were reported in the municipality, according to the province’s health authority (NSHA).
Dr. Trevor Arnason told Global News that all seven cases are people from the Halifax area though he said some have travelled outside the municipality.
“I think the important thing to remember is that measles is extremely contagious, so whenever we have measles in Nova Scotia, we do expect that it will spread to a number of people,” he said. “But yes, it is an outbreak because normally we do not see any cases of measles in Nova Scotia, and so when we do, we initiate our outbreak response to try to stop the spread, and that’s what we’re doing now at public health.”
All cases were confirmed by public health.
He said though the virus is contagious, the low number is a “positive” and the authority has “had good success following up with contacts of individuals who have contracted measles.”
Arnason said public risk is still low and all cases reported were in young adults, primarily those in their 20s and 30s.
“They all have a link to each other that we can identify that places them in the same location where they would have contracted it from another person who we knew about who had measles,” Arnason said. “So we haven’t found any yet that don’t have a clear link to one of our other cases or original case.”
He said they also have contacted organizations and businesses as part of the investigation so they can provide further information to staff and clients.
Last week, Cole Harbour Place posted on its Facebook page that one of the people confirmed with measles had visited Scotia 1 arena. They notified people that if they had been at the location on the evenings of Feb. 7 and Feb. 11, they should monitor themselves for possible symptoms.
Arnason would not say which businesses had been contacted because there were several as “the cases” have been at several businesses and locations throughout the area.
“We’ve contacted the ones we feel that there may be a risk of exposure so they can notify people who may have been at those locations,” he told Global News.
Prior to these cases, a confirmed case of the virus hasn’t been seen in Nova Scotia since 2008. The rarity of the virus is due to most people having been vaccinated, Arnason said.
He said they are also going through the vaccinations of people who became ill and said some have had vaccinations, while others have had incomplete vaccinations. As a result, he said this has prompted the NSHA to review if there are any ways to improve the province’s vaccination programs or ways to get vaccinations to those not completely immunized.
Free vaccinations are available for anyone in Nova Scotia born after 1970 and Arnason recommends people should check their records to ensure they have received both doses.
Most people recover from measles within two to three weeks, however there is a higher risk for complications in infants, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.
Symptoms of the virus include:
- Red eyes
- Runny nose
- Small white spots can show up in the mouth and throat
- A blotchy facial rash that can spread down the body
Anyone with symptoms is asked to contact their doctor or primary health care provider, or 811 to receive advice from a registered nurse.
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