Measles outbreak triggers travel concern

Following a measles outbreak in southern Alberta, Western officials are heeding a call by Alberta Health Services (AHS) and advising members of the university community who are traveling to Alberta to check their immunization status prior to leaving.

On Oct. 18, a Grade 9 student at Coaldale Christian School in Coaldale, Alta., contracted the air-borne disease on a trip to the Netherlands. The local outbreak is linked to an ongoing measles outbreak that began last spring in the Netherlands, where about 2,000 people have reportedly been infected with measles and one person has died.

As of Thursday, 20 cases had been reported elsewhere in the County of Lethbridge and in Fort Macleod, according to AHS. None of those infected had received measles vaccinations.

Measles symptoms, including runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever and later a blotchy red rash, generally appear around the 10th day after a person is infected, so it’s possible for those infected to spread the virus before they show any symptoms.

Measles is a routine and commonly received vaccine. If an individual has at least two doses after age 2, they should be immune. If unsure, a blood test can determine immunization status, although results require a week or so.

Western’s Student Health Services and Family Practice Clinic will provide the vaccine to anyone; there is no charge with your health card. Also, the Middlesex Public Health Unit, 50 King St., offers the vaccine as well. Contact 519-663-5317 for details.

For more information, visit the Alberta Health Service, South Zone website or read its Frequently Asked Questions.