Royal Jubilee Hospital
Royal Jubilee Hospital (partnershipsbc.com)

BC’s recent measles outbreak has reached Vancouver Island.

On Friday morning, Island Health confirmed that two cases of measles infection have been reported on southern Vancouver Island.

In both cases, the individuals were Vancouver Island residents who contracted the disease while traveling to Vietnam and sought treatment in Victoria.

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“Based upon clinical management and prior immunization, we want to assure people that risk of transmission is extremely low,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer.

In a press conference on Friday morning, Dr. Stanwick stated that both individuals had previously received only one dose of the MMR vaccine.

The authority advises that people who were at the following locations on the given dates and times may have been exposed to measles:

Date Time Location
March 6, 2019 5:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Royal Jubilee Hospital, Emergency Department
March 8, 2019 7:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Royal Jubilee Hospital, Outpatient clinic
March 9, 2019 8:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. Royal Jubilee Hospital, Emergency Department

Island Health has identified 117 individuals who were in the Emergency department at the same time as the measles patient who attended the hospital.

Out of those 117, authorities will be contacting around two dozen people who were unsure of immunization status or did not have one or either MMR vaccine dose administered.

Dr. Stanwick also pointed out that two people associated with the measles patients had previously received both doses of the MMR vaccine and therefore did not contract the disease despite close contact, which speaks to the importance of immunization.

Symptoms and what to do

If you’ve been exposed to measles, monitor your health for the next 21 days for symptoms of the disease including fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, diarrhea and red eyes, followed a few days later by a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the chest.

Those who have never contracted measles or have not received two doses of the MMR vaccine are at highest risk of measles, and are encouraged to get immunized as soon as possible.

Island Health also states that those who believe they now have measles should contact their local health care provider before arriving at the facility so that health care practitioners may take precautions to minimize the risk of transmission.

Contact the following lines for information about measles and treatment:

  • South Island: 250-544-7676 ext. 27545
  • Nanaimo/Ladysmith/Gabriola: 250-755-3388
  • Courtenay/Comox Valley: 250-331-8599
  • Campbell River and area: 250-850-2120
  • Mt. Waddington/Port Hardy: 250-902-6079

Immunization

Free vaccinations are available from your local health unit, family doctor, and many pharmacists. All Health Units in Island Health are also currently offering additional booked school age immunization appointments scheduled during regular clinic hours, after hours and Saturdays.

In the past 4 weeks Island Health has administered a total of 2,966 measles vaccinations which is more than double than the previous year. In addition, the health authority is offering to catch up all vaccines that the patient is behind on at the appointment.

Prior to this recent increase, BC Centre for Disease Control statistics for 2012 and 2018 have shown that the immunization rate in 7-year-old children on Vancouver Island has decreased by 12-13% on Vancouver Island, and by 7% in B.C. within a 6 year span.

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