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.

Just Posted

Maritime Museum makes bid to move back into Bastion Square

The museum pitched significant renovations to make its long-time home more accommodating

Six-storey, 102-unit residential complex proposed for main Esquimalt intersection

Praxis Architects Inc. wants to see the development at Lampson Road and Esquimalt Street

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

Grumpy Taxpayer$ invite the public to its 2019 annual general meeting

CRD chair Colin Plant serves as guest speaker at Nov. 27 meeting

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

Eagles congregate around Salish Sea for one last feast before period of famine

Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society preparing to receive birds in need of care

Smudging in B.C. classroom did not affect Christian family’s faith, says school district lawyer

Lawyers make closing arguments in a Port Alberni case about the Indigenous cultural practice

Canadian Forces member charged with possessing magic mushrooms in Comox

Master Cpl. Joshua Alexander, with the 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron, facing two drug related charges

Most B.C. residents, including those hit by 2018 storms, not prepared for outages: report

Create an emergency kit, BC Hydro says, and report all outages or downed lines

Study finds microplastics in all remote Arctic beluga whales tested

Lead author Rhiannon Moore says she wasn’t expecting to see so many microplastics so far north

Most Read