Measles outbreaks continue to be on the rise in Canada. A new measles case has just been confirmed in BC, making it the 27th case in Canada since the beginning of this year. A majority of the cases have been in the BC region, with some occurring in other provinces due to travel. Despite a large number of cases, health officials have said that it is unlikely to spread beyond the already formed clusters.
Not too long ago, Interior Health in BC confirmed another case of measles. According to the BC Center for Disease Control, this would make this the 27th case in Canada in 2019. The Government of Canada has confirmed that cases of measles have been confirmed in BC, Quebec, Ontario, and the Northwest Territories.
By February 9th of this year, BC had two confirmed cases of measles. As of today, there are now 20 confirmed cases in BC alone. The most recent case was confirmed only moments ago by Interior Health. This new case is from 100 Mile House in British Columbia.
Health officers have been able to determine the cause of the infection. They believe is it in connection to a previous case of measles also in the 100 Mile House. This case was confirmed on March 9, 2019. Both cases at the 100 Mile House are from outbreaks outside of the province and are not believed to be linked to the cases in BC.
A second case of #measles confirmed in the IH region, in 100 Mile House, and connected to a previous case in the area. Both cases are travel-related and are not linked to cases on the B.C. coast. More info: https://t.co/Z04nbL3Znz— Interior Health (@Interior_Health) March 22, 2019
Interior Health is now monitoring and following up with the individuals who may have been in contact with the measles patients. Post-exposure protection will be offered to these individuals. The risk to the broader public is considered low, however, Interior Health has mentioned where the infected individual was for the safety of the province.
Interior Health has stated that if you were in 100 Mile House on March 13, 2019, at Interlakes Market from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM, you may have been in contact with the infected individual. Any concerned individual should contact a health centre and speak with a nurse to determine your vaccination history.
Despite this being the 27th case of measles this year, Dr. Reka Gustafson of Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) publicly stated that the spread of measles is unlikely. Dr. Gustafson has stated that the measles outbreaks that have occurred have been in “clusters.” She stated that it was unlikely for there to be a significant community transmission of measles beyond the already identified clusters.
VCH media relations personnel have stated that the general public is not at a risk due to high vaccination rates. In reality, vaccination rates in Vancouver, where most of the measles outbreaks occurred, are below average. In order to ensure herd immunity, a vaccination rate of 90% or higher needs to be achieved. Vancouver currently has a vaccination rate for measles of 83.1%.
Measles has been able to spread throughout Canada for a number of reasons. One has been through the travel of the sick individual. Last month, a traveller with measles hopped on a plane in Vancouver. They then spread the disease to the North West Territories. It is believed that the 11-year-old infected Vancouver boy was returning home from a vacation in Vietnam where measles was acquired.
Another reason measles has spread is because of clusters. In BC, 8 cases of measles were confirmed to be from two French-language schools within Vancouver after an unvaccinated child contracted the disease during a trip to Vietnam.
In order to ensure everyone has the measles vaccination, the BC government is investing $3 million in a “catch-up” program. This program will run from April to June and will allow people to receive the measles vaccine. This would ensure vaccination rates increase.
BC has also discussed picking up the Ontario method of vaccinating. This would ensure that vaccination records were provided by students before enrolment.
Facebook is also attempting to increase vaccination rates by no longer allowing anti-vaccination groups to advertise on the website. In the past, Facebook was attacked for reportedly accepting thousands of dollars in advertising from anti-vaccination groups. Instead of vaccines, the pages were offering alternatives that included high doses of vitamin C. They also targeted parents with scary misinformation about the effects of vaccines.