Health officials confirm measles outbreak in Vancouver after 8th case identified

Health officials in Vancouver say the city is facing an outbreak of measles with eight cases of the disease confirmed this week.

Dr. Althea Hayden of Vancouver Coastal Health announced at a news conference Friday that all new cases emanate from École Jules-Verne, a French-language high school in South Vancouver.

“We now have an outbreak,” said Hayden. “Cases are occurring in staff, students and family members affiliated with this school.”

Infected individual visited ER

One of the infected individuals visited the B.C. Children’s Hospital emergency department while they were infectious, said Hayden. The health authority says people who were at the emergency department on the dates and times below could have been exposed.

January 21, 2019 – 10 a.m. to 6:10 p.m.
January 23, 2019 – 4:45 p.m. to 11:10 p.m.
January 24, 2019 – 8:13 a.m. to 11:40 a.m.
February 1, 2019 – 2:05 p.m. to 6:55 p.m.

A disease outbreak is defined as a higher-than-expected number of cases, said Hayden. In Vancouver, the number of measles cases should be zero if there was an adequate level of immunization.

Vancouver Coastal Health issued an alert to parents, students and staff after two cases of measles were confirmed at École Secondaire Jules-Verne in Vancouver. (Harold Dupuis/CBC Radio-Canada)

The first, unrelated case of measles was reported last week in Vancouver.

Officials have determined the first of the latest round of infections was acquired through travel outside North America.

Hayden said people associated with two other French schools have also been affected as the measles spread. There are confirmed cases at École Anne Hebert in South Vancouver and a suspected case at École Rose des Vent in the Oakridge neighbourhood.

Vaccination information

Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air. Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes, followed a few days later by a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the chest. 

British Columbians born before 1970 who have developed immunity to the disease and those who have received vaccinations are likely immune.

VCH recommends two doses of measles vaccine to protect yourself if you were born after 1970. People born between 1970-1994, or those born outside B.C., are likely to have received one dose. Getting a second dose if you’ve only had one dose is recommended.

According to HealthLink BC, measles can cause brain inflammation which can lead to seizures or brain damage. One person in every 3,000 cases of measles may die from complications which are most common in infants. 

Hayden said anyone experiencing symptoms should contact their health provider.

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