Measles case in Halifax area prompts vaccine reminder from health officials

Click to play video: 'Health officials investigating measles case in Halifax area'
Health officials investigating measles case in Halifax area
A recent measles scare is prompting a reminder from health officials to ensure you and your loved ones are protected against the disease. Nova Scotia Health issued a warning last week with potential exposure sites after confirming a case in the Halifax area. Skye Bryden-Blom reports. – Apr 17, 2023

A recent measles scare is prompting a reminder from health officials in Nova Scotia to ensure you and your loved ones are vaccinated against the illness.

Measles is considered one of the world’s most contagious diseases. It can spread through the air by coughing and sneezing.

The infection prevention and control medical director at the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax says if you’re exposed and have not received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and you don’t have immunity, you have a 90 per cent chance of infection.

“It’s extremely contagious,” says Dr. Jeanette Comeau. “It can linger in the air for a bit of time, so one case really can turn into many cases quite quickly if we don’t have a high vaccine uptake.”

The virus can survive in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.

Story continues below advertisement

Common symptoms of the disease include a fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a red blotchy rash on the face, which can spread down the body.

Another sign of the illness can be small white spots that can show up inside the mouth and throat.

It can be quite dangerous for some, including infants, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.

Some can end up with an infection around the brain.

The latest health and medical news emailed to you every Sunday.

“One in 1,000 people either from the respiratory infection or from the brain infection can die,” Comeau says. “And that’s the reason really why I so highly recommend immunization.”

She says it’s recommended babies received their vaccine doses at 12 and 18 months, which will protect them from the illness for life.

However, data from the World Health Organization shows a drop in vaccination rates since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of public health efforts rightfully were diverted to the pandemic,” explains Comeau. “There have been people questioning vaccines a little bit more, and so we’re now seeing that the vaccine uptake for children is a little bit lower.”

Story continues below advertisement

In a statement, Nova Scotia Health says there has been a drop in the province, but the exact numbers aren’t yet available.

“Most jurisdictions across Canada have found that the pandemic resulted in many kids not receiving vaccines they were scheduled for, and Nova Scotia is no exception,” the statement says. “Anecdotally, we know there was a drop in childhood vaccination, but we do not have the specific numbers available at this time.”

It also notes most childhood vaccines are provided by family doctors. In Nova Scotia, more than 140,00o people are on the primary care wait-list.

Click to play video: 'Influenza, measles part of infectious diseases that are making a comeback, Tam says'
Influenza, measles part of infectious diseases that are making a comeback, Tam says

On Friday, April 14, Nova Scotia Health issued a potential exposure notice for the Halifax area with three sites listed as part of its investigation in co-ordination with the IWK Health Centre into a case of measles.

Story continues below advertisement

The notice asks members of the public who were at the following sites to monitor for symptoms:

  • Tanoor Restaurant (771 Bedford Hwy., Bedford) on April 6 between 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.
  • Family Focus Medical Clinic (667 Sackville Dr., Ste. 207, Lower Sackville) on April 10 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • IWK Health Centre Emergency Department (5941 South St., Halifax) on April 10 from 6:15 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. (April 11) and from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the evening of April 11.

Nova Scotia Health confirmed on Monday there were no new cases or exposure sites to report.

A vaccine clinic will be offered on Thursday, April 20 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Public Health Office in Dartmouth, which is located at 7 Mellor Dr.

It will be open to anyone who may have been exposed and who has not already received both doses of the MMR vaccine.

Appointments are required and can be booked by calling 902-481-1697.

Sponsored content