New measles case on the South Island; risk of transmission extremely low

Island Health has confirmed a new case of measles infection on the South Island.  Dr. Dee Hoyano, Island Health Medical Health Officer, says there is a very low risk of transmission and there are no high risk public exposures on Vancouver Island, but this serves as a reminder for people to get up-to-date on their immunizations. 

The latest case of measles is believed to be travel-related and the individual was travelling during the infectious period.  The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is working with King County Public Health in Washington State to share any relevant information.

Contact tracing on Vancouver Island was limited to one medical clinic and all of the individuals have been contacted.  Those who are not fully immunized were offered a prophylaxis vaccine that, if taken within six days of exposure, provides protection against measles.

This brings the total number of lab-confirmed measles cases on Vancouver Island to eight.  Another recent measles infection on Vancouver Island was also determined to be travel-related and there were no high risk public exposures. 

Since February, Island Health has administered more than 7,300 measles vaccinations, which is double what was administered the previous year. Public Health continues to offer extra clinics to meet increased requests for immunization. 

Measles catch-up program

The BC government and Island Health are making it easier for children 18 and under on Vancouver Island to get up-to-date on their immunizations. A provincial measles catch-up program is underway, helping families protect their children against measles. 

Parents of eligible children who are not up-to-date for measles vaccinations are being contacted by Island Health. The program runs until the end of June, and provides measles vaccine for children who have not begun or completed their series.  Immunization clinics are being provided at schools and local public health units. Information regarding clinic dates and location are being provided through your child’s school.

For more information about the measles catch-up program, visit www.islandhealth.ca/catch-up.

Measles symptoms and updates

Symptoms of measles include fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, diarrhea and red eyes, followed a few days later by a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the chest.  If you develop symptoms, please contact your health care provider before you visit them so they can take precautions to prevent transmission of measles to others.

Measles information

Call one of our measles information lines for more information:

  • South Island: 250-544-7676 ext. 27545
  • Nanaimo/Ladysmith/Gabriola: 250-755-3388
  • Courtenay/Comox Valley: 250-331-8599
  • Campbell River and area: 250-850-2120
  • Mt. Waddington/Port Hardy: 250-902-6079

For other public health locations or if you have questions, please contact a public health unit.

 

General information

Two doses of measles vaccine are 99 per cent effective at preventing measles. One dose of vaccine is 95 per cent effective. Rarely, those who are fully immunized can get measles but they often have milder illness, and are less infectious to others.

Free vaccine is available from your local health unit, family doctor, and many pharmacists. All Health Units in Island Health are currently offering additional booked school age immunization appointments. These clinics are scheduled during regular public health hours, evenings and weekends.

South Island, Duncan, Nanaimo and Salt Spring Public Health Units are prioritizing immunizations for children.  For clients aged 19 and older, please contact your local pharmacy, family doctor or travel clinic. Pharmacists can immunize adults and children five years and older. Please call ahead to ensure vaccine is available.

 

Media inquiries

Cheryl Bloxham
250-370-8878
cheryl.bloxham@viha.ca