Health officials are warning the public after confirming the year’s first case of measles in the Edmonton area, and issuing a list of times and places where other people may have been exposed.
On Monday, Alberta Health Services said an adult with a lab-confirmed case of measles had been out in public in Sherwood Park, Nisku and Edmonton while infectious.
The health authority released a list of times and locations, many in Sherwood Park, where potential exposures occurred between May 9 and 17.
Other people who were in the same places during those dates and times may have been exposed to measles, an extremely contagious disease which is spread easily through the air. There is no treatment for measles but it can be prevented through immunization.
Dr. Chris Sikora, medical officer of health with AHS, said he could not discuss specifics about the case for patient confidentiality reasons.
“What I can state about this particular individual is that they likely contracted measles (through) travel abroad or travel outside the North American environment, and returned and then became ill shortly after,” he said.
They are still encouraged to review their immunization history and arrange vaccination if they have not received two doses of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.
Measles is an extremely contagious disease that spreads through the air. While there is no treatment, it can be prevented through immunization. Sikora said an infectious person can spread the disease simply by coughing.
Measles cases have been on the upswing in Alberta and other parts of North America. Alberta had eight cases in 2018 and has had three so far in 2019.
AHS said people who were potentially exposed between May 9-17 are no longer eligible for the preventative vaccine as it would no longer be effective post-exposure. However, they were still encouraged to review their immunization history and arrange vaccination if they have yet to receive two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
AHS added that anyone born after 1970 who has not already had measles, has not received two doses of the vaccine and who may have been exposed is at risk of developing the disease and should monitor for symptoms over the next three weeks.
People who are pregnant, under one year of age, or have a weakened immune systems were encouraged to contact Health Link as they may be eligible for medication to prevent measles.
Albertans uncertain of their own or their child's immunization history can call Health Link at 811 to discuss.
Measles symptoms include a fever 38.3 C or higher accompanied by a cough, runny nose and/or red eyes and a red, blotchy rash that appears three to seven days after fever develops. The rash begins to appear behind the ears and on the face before spreading down the body, ending on the arms and legs. Anyone showing those symptoms should stay home and call Health Link at 811 before visiting any health-care facility.
“It is a vaccine-preventable disease, it’s easily prevented by two doses of measles-containing vaccine in early childhood,” he said. “It confers lifelong immunity, greater than 99 per cent protection after two doses.”
Children usually receive their first dose of the measles vaccine when they turn one, with a second dose administered between the ages of four and six.
May 17: University of Alberta Hospital emergency department, 8440 112th St., Edmonton; 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Editors note: This story has been updated to reflect corrected information from AHS regarding the persons location on May 16.
A person with lab-confirmed measles visited Edmonton, Sherwood Park and Nisku while infectious last week, says Alberta Health Services.
AHS said those who were exposed between May 9 and 17 are no longer eligible for preventative vaccine as it would not be effective, but that these individuals should review their immunization history and arrange vaccination if they have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine.
People who were born after 1970 may still be at risk for developing measles–even if they were not at the above locations–if they have not had measles previously or received two doses of the measles vaccine.
Symptoms can include a fever above 38.3 C; a cough, runny nose and/or red eyes; and a red blotchy rash that appears three to seven days after the fever starts. The rash most commonly begins behind the ears and on the face, and spreads down the body to arms and legs.
As well, people who were at the above locations and who are pregnant, less than one year old or have a weakened immune system due to disease or medication are recommended to call Health Link at 811 for further assessment. They may be eligible for prophylactic medication to prevent measles.
More information regarding immunization history and vaccination can be found by calling Health Link at 811 or online.
This article has been edited to correct a potential exposure location. AHS previously said the infectious person visited the Strathcona County Health Centre Emergency Department on May 16, when in fact they had gone to the Strathcona Community Hospital.
Mackenzie County has issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents in the south and southeast parts of High Level, as well as south of the Bushe River Reserve.