Fraser Health is warning passengers on the 7 p.m. BC Ferries sailing from Tsawwassen to Mayne Island on Friday, Aug. 31 of a possible exposure to measles.
According to a press release issued on Sept. 6, an infectious case of measles was confirmed aboard the vessel, potentially exposing other passengers to the disease. As well, Island Health is warning that this same traveller is believed to have visited the Saturna Lighthouse Pub on Saturna Island on Monday, Sept. 3 between 5:30 and 7 p.m.
“If you travelled on this ferry during this time period, check your immunization status. You are most at risk of measles infection if you are completely unvaccinated against measles,” Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Ingrid Tyler said in the press release. “If you develop any of the symptoms and have a fever, call your doctor and inform them that you may have been exposed to measles. They will arrange to see you in a manner that avoids infecting other patients in the waiting room.”
Fraser Health said the case is related to a measles alert issued for Maple Ridge Secondary School.
Measles is highly infectious and unimmunized people are at risk. Measles can be a serious illness with complications such as inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), convulsions, deafness or brain damage. Infants under one year of age and adults who have other health concerns may have more severe illness. In Canada death caused by measles is fairly rare, estimated in the range of one for every 500-3,000 cases.
The incubation period (the time it takes to develop symptoms after being exposed) for measles is about 10 days but can range from seven to 21 (i.e. Sept. 7 to 21). Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed by a rash that starts centrally — including on the face — and spreads to the limbs, lasting at least three days. Measles can also be a serious infection with more severe illness.
Fraser Health says anyone born in or after 1970 should have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine (often given as combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine or MMR), in which case are protected from the disease. Those born prior to 1970 are likely to be immune to measles through a prior measles infection.
If you are unsure about your immunization status, Fraser Health advises consulting with your doctor or local public health unit for advice. Adults born in or after 1970 and kids over five years who have not had two doses of measles-containing vaccine are asked to contact their doctor or pharmacist about vaccination.