A confirmed case of measles in the South Okanagan has Interior Health warning the public to ensure their immunizations are up to date.
The single case was discovered in Penticton and contracted by a person travelling from Alberta, which along with some communities in the Fraser Health region have experienced larges measles outbreaks this spring.
“So far in Interior Health we have only had one recent measles case, but that can change at any time especially with the increase in measles activity that we have seen in other parts of BC and Canada,” says Dr. Parker, Medical Health Officer.
“Measles is a potentially severe illness caused by a virus and it is very contagious. The best way to prevent a measles outbreak here is by making sure our immunization rates are high.”
Those born prior to 1970 are considered immune, as childhood exposure to the virus was more common back then, but anyone born after 1970 should protect themselves through immunization.
Children in BC usually get inoculated twice before kindergarten and anyone unsure can check their immunization record or contact their local public health centre.
The measles virus spreads through the air and can be passed to others for one to two days before symptoms develop and up to four days after rash appears.
Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, and red and inflamed eyes. That is followed by a rash that starts on the face and neck, before spreading to the chest, arms, and legs.
“When someone is experiencing measles symptoms, or if they have been in contact with someone who has measles, it is very important that they stay away from others to prevent spreading the disease,” adds Parker.
“If a person suspects they may have measles and they need to go to the hospital, emergency room or a doctor’s office, we advise them to call ahead first, so health-care staff can take measures to isolate the patient as they come in and avoid exposing others in waiting rooms to a potentially infectious disease.”
If you have any questions about measles, please call HealthLink BC by dialling 8-1-1. If you need to make an appointment for immunization, contact your local public health centre.