For the first time since 2008, Nova Scotia health officials have reported confirmed measles. In fact, health officials have confirmed three cases of measles in the Halifax area and is advising Nova Scotia residents about the symptoms of measles and how they can protect themselves.
“We have confirmed three cases of measles in Halifax area and are following up with the contacts of these individuals. We are also investigating to determine how they became infected,” said Dr. Trevor Arnason, Medical Officer of Health for Halifax, Eastern Shore and West Hants areas.
Most people are protected from measles infection by being vaccinated.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth or throat of infected persons. Initial symptoms, which usually appear 10–12 days after infection, include high fever, runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and tiny white spots on the inside of the mouth. Several days later, a rash develops, starting on the face and upper neck and gradually spreading downwards.
There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within 2–3 weeks. However, particularly in malnourished children and people with reduced immunity, measles can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia. Measles can be prevented by immunization.
“While the risk to the general public is low at this point, it’s important to be aware of measles symptoms and to know what to do if you develop symptoms,” Dr. Arnason noted.
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.