Check immunization records for measles: Island Health

Washington State outbreak has officials urging Islanders to be proactive

A 3D representation of a measles virus. Image courtesy Center for Disease Control

Island Health is encouraging all residents to check their vaccination records following an outbreak of measles in Washington state that prompted its governor to declare a state of emergency.

Dr. Charmaine Enns, medical health officer for Island Health, said while the measles is a serious infection, it is vaccine-preventable.

“Before the vaccine, (measles) was quite common but serious. As we vaccinate, sometimes we lose seriousness of the infection. This is a disease that is serious; it can cause infections or pneumonia.”

She added there is a one in 1,000 chance of measles causing encephalitis (brain inflammation), while the death rate for the disease is one in 3,000.

As of Jan. 28, there have been 36 confirmed cases of the measles in Washington state since the beginning of the year.

On Monday, Washington public health officials confirmed two cases of measles in Hawaii were in unvaccinated children who travelled from the state to Hawaii.

Measles is highly infectious and spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing, as well as respiratory secretions, said Enns.

Measles symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed a few days later by a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the chest. It is important to note people with measles can infect others prior to the onset of symptoms like fever and rash.

As a result of the number of incidents in the neighboring state and the close proximity to B.C., the BC Centre for Disease Control has issued a warning to British Columbians following the outbreak.

RELATED: Measles outbreak in Washington state spurs warning from BC Centre for Disease Control

Enns explained if residents are fully vaccinated, there is generally little to worry about.

She added there are exceptions for individuals such as those who’ve had bone marrow transplants or have recently gone through chemotherapy; those residents may have to be re-immunized.

If someone cannot find their immunization records, she encourages residents to check with their doctor but said it would be simply a wasted dose if vaccinated twice.

The measles vaccine is available as a combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and is available from a local health unit, family doctor and many pharmacists.

“The purpose of the vaccine is twofold: to prevent the disease and to reduce the transmission,” she explained.

In B.C., children receive two doses of measles-containing vaccine during routine immunization, with the first at 12 months of age and the second at four years of age or school entry.

Adults born before Jan. 1, 1970 are generally assumed to have acquired immunity to measles from natural infection; however, there may be a small number of susceptible individuals born before 1970 who do not have a history of measles disease. For health care workers, Enns noted those born in 1957 or later, who do not have evidence of immunity measles, need two doses of a measles-containing vaccine. Those born before 1957 are considered immune to the disease.

“You really don’t want to get measles to develop a natural immunity, because there is a chance you can die; you want to be protected,” said Enns.

To date, no cases have been reported in B.C. related to the Washington state outbreak, but travellers to affected communities are at risk of exposure, said Enns.

There have been outbreaks in Western Europe within the past year, and anytime travel is involved, there is a chance of spreading the disease. There was a case of the measles reported during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

The last large outbreaks of measles in B.C. were in 2014 and 2010.

To find a public health unit anywhere in the province, see the site finder on ImmunizeBC.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Greater Victoria liquor stores see spike in sales amidst COVID-19

Customers are buying go-to products in larger quantities

Victoria fills more than 100 motel rooms with homeless population

Mayor says staffing is the biggest issue impacting opening of Royal Athletic Park

Esquimalt’s Buccaneer Days cancelled due to COVID-19

The pirate-themed fair will take place in 2021

‘Small python’ found in vacant Cook Street apartment

Snake taken to CRD Animal Shelter to be claimed

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Nanaimo man arrested after allegedly setting house fire

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road in Cedar on Thursday

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Most Read