One case of measles has been confirmed in Red Deer.
Last week, Alberta Health Services identified a probable case of measles in the Central Zone and is advising of potential exposures. This case has since been confirmed.
“What we’ve seen since January in Alberta is a couple of pockets of small amounts of spread,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Central Zone Medical Officer of Health. “In general we do have a population for the most part that is immunized. What we’re a little bit concerned about is that if there is a group that is not protected and it starts to spread more widely in that group and we start to see more cases.
“Measles is a serious disease and we are very concerned with spread so we are doing everything we can to prevent that.”
One location of exposure was Mattie McCullough Elementary School.
“The entire school was considered exposed with how contagious measles is. We’ve been following up and our first priority are people within the school who don’t have two doses of measles containing vaccine because they would be the people that we would consider susceptible to measles,” said Hinshaw. “This is the exposure site of highest concern because it will have the most people that will be the most exposed. We are working closely with the school and school board to ensure the people who are susceptible at that school are protected.”
AHS said individuals who have attended the following locations on the specific dates and times may have been exposed to measles.
These include Mattie McCullough Elementary School on April 4, 8 and 9 from 8:40 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. (officials said individuals at risk in this school setting have already been notified directly; only those who were notified directly of this exposure setting are considered at risk); Abbey Master Builder Centre in Blackfalds on April 5 from noon to 3 p.m. and the Village Mall Medical Clinic on April 9 from 8:10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
Individuals who were in the above locations in the noted time frames may be at risk for developing measles. These individuals are advised to monitor themselves for symptoms of measles. If symptoms of measles do develop, these individuals are advised to stay home and call Health Link Alberta (1-866-408-5465) before visiting any health care facility or provider.
Symptoms of measles include a fever of 38.3C or higher; and cough, runny nose and/or red eyes; and a red blotchy rash that appears three to seven days after fever starts, beginning behind the ears and on the face and spreading down the body and then to the arms and legs.
Measles is an extremely contagious disease, spread easily through the air. Though there is no treatment for measles, it can be prevented through immunization.
Hinshaw said it is important for parents to vaccinate their children.
“When people choose not to vaccinate, their children are susceptible to measles which is highly contagious,” she said. “At the moment we are most concerned for those people who don’t have full protection for their own health and wellbeing and we are trying to protect them. Our secondary concern is protecting others as well.”
In Alberta, measles vaccine is offered, free of charge, through Alberta’s publicly funded immunization program. Children in Alberta typically receive their first dose of measles vaccine at 12 months of age, and their second dose between the ages of four and six years.