Thirteen measles cases have now been confirmed in the province, all believed to be linked in this most recent outbreak.
“All of the cases currently confirmed have been linked in some way – primarily with people having been in the same location as someone who was infected with measles,” says Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, deputy chief medical officer of health. “While the number of cases has increased in this particular outbreak, it’s not a surprise given how contagious measles is.”
Dr. Watson-Creed notes that there are several factors helping to prevent more cases. “Having a highly vaccinated population helps prevent the spread of measles, in addition to our investigation and contract tracing to prevent more cases. The slow climb in cases indicates we may be approaching the peak in the outbreak but we are remaining diligent in our efforts to contain cases.”
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.
Some of the confirmed measles cases include health care workers. Measures are in place to prevent further spread of measles at healthcare facilities and to support safety for staff and physicians, as well as for patients and visitors to facilities where measles exposure may have occurred.
“We work closely with any individuals who may have been exposed and are at higher risk for contracting measles, as well as those who are confirmed to have measles,” Dr. Watson-Creed said. “Depending on the situation, we let individuals know of any precautions they may need to take, such as time off work or limiting activities, to help prevent further spread of measles.”
Risk to the general public remains low at this time and most people are protected from measles infection by being vaccinated. Public Health is once again asking the public to be aware of measles symptoms and what to do if they have them.
Symptoms of measles include:
- fever, cough, runny nose
- red eyes
- a red blotchy rash on the face, which spreads down the body
- irritability (feeling cranky or in a bad mood)
- small white spots may also show up inside the mouth and throat
If you have symptoms of measles, you should:
- Call Public Health at 1-844-856-3677.
- Call 811 for advice from a registered nurse.
- If you need to see a healthcare provider for assessment, such as your family doctor, please call ahead. Healthcare providers need to take special precautions to protect other patients from being exposed.
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.
Public Health has been directly notifying others, such as family members and friends, who are known to have had close contact with a case.
This cluster of cases is not linked to the outbreak that affected seven people in the province last month.
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.