In a follow-up on the measles outbreak in the Halifax, Nova Scotia area, health officials say the number of confirmed measles cases have grown to seven cases.
“It isn’t surprising that we have discovered more measles cases, given how contagious the measles virus is. At the same time, it’s a positive sign that the number remains low and we’ve had good success following up with contacts of individuals who have contracted measles,” said Dr. Trevor Arnason, Medical Officer of Health for Halifax, Eastern Shore and West Hants areas.
Risk to the general public remains low and most people are protected from measles infection by being vaccinated. All current cases have been young adults. Adults born in the 1970s to early 1990s may have received only one dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine in childhood. Nova Scotians born after 1970 are eligible for a second dose of the MMR vaccine at no cost through their primary care provider.
Dr. Arnason noted that investigation of confirmed cases has included notifying some organizations and businesses so that they can help share information with their staff and clients about measles symptoms and what to do if symptoms develop.
“It’s important to quickly identify those who have symptoms so that precautions can be taken to prevent the spread of measles and follow up with as many people as possible who may have been exposed. This also gives us an opportunity to look at immunization history and support individuals in getting vaccines up to date.”
Measles is a viral illness and most people fully recover within two to three weeks. However, measles can have serious complications, which are more likely in infants, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.
Symptoms of measles include:
- runny nose
- red eyes
- irritability (feeling cranky or in a bad mood)
- small white spots may also show up inside the mouth and throat
- a red blotchy rash on the face, which spreads down the body
If you have symptoms of measles, you should:
- Call your local Public Health office: http://novascotia.ca/dhw/publichealth/phs-offices.asp
- Call 811 for advice from a registered nurse. They will advise on next steps.
- If you need to see a healthcare provider for assessment, such as your family doctor, call ahead to make sure they are prepared to see you. Measles is highly contagious and healthcare providers need to take special precautions to protect other patients from being exposed.
Nova Scotia residents born after 1970 are eligible to receive two doses of measles-containing vaccine at no cost through the publicly funded immunization program. Individuals who have not had two doses of measles-containing vaccine should arrange immunization through their primary care provider as per the NS Immunization Schedule.
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