First case of measles reported in British Columbia over the weekend: Ministry of Health

A case of measles was reported in British Columbia over the weekend, the provincial Ministry of Health confirmed in a statement Monday morning.

This weekend’s confirmed case is the first the province has recorded since 2019. As of February 29, nine other cases of the disease have been confirmed across Canada.

British Columbia’s Ministry of Health announced the case in a statement warning locals to confirm their vaccination records, especially before taking spring break trips.

“With measles outbreaks reported internationally and spring break on the horizon, the provincial health officer, the BC Center for Disease Control and public health officials are reminding people in British Columbia to check their vaccination records before traveling to ensure they are protected,” the statement reads. saying.

Globally, measles cases are increasing. The World Health Organization reported a 79 per cent increase in cases in 2023, compared to 2022. The Public Health Agency of Canada said last month there has been a “notable recent increase” in cases in Europe.

1st case since 2019

BC has not recorded any cases of measles for several years. In 2019, which was the last time the disease was reported in the province, 31 cases were recorded.

That year, several cases in the province were linked to travel from the Philippines and Vietnam, where large outbreaks were occurring at the time. Other cases were related to travel from the United States. Just under half of 2019’s cases occurred among young people 19 years old or younger.

In 2018, nine cases were recorded in BC

Protection against measles

Adults and children who have received two doses of the measles vaccine are almost 100 percent protected against the disease, PHAC says. The federal agency says a 2021 National Immunization Coverage Survey shows 91.6 per cent of two-year-olds in Canada received at least one measles vaccine, but only 79.2 per cent of children seven years old have received a second dose.

The first dose of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is usually given to babies between 12 and 15 months. A second dose is given to children when they start school, usually between four and six years of age. But British Columbia’s Ministry of Health says children up to six months old can receive their first dose, especially if they travel to a place where measles is more common.

Adults born before 1970 are generally assumed to have acquired immunity to measles because they were likely infected while the disease was endemic in Canada.

Meanwhile, adults born in 1970 or later probably received one dose of the measles vaccine as children. PHAC says it wasn’t until 1996 that two doses became standard.

Anyone who doubts whether they received a second dose should talk to their healthcare provider about the possibility of receiving a booster shot. Those without a doctor can receive a free vaccine at their local health unit, the British Columbia Ministry of Health says.

“Measles is a highly contagious virus that can spread through the air,” the ministry statement said. “People can spread the virus to others before they show symptoms, and the virus can remain suspended in the air of a room for several hours. This is why protection through vaccination is so important. People who are most at risk of contracting measles are those who “are not fully vaccinated against the disease and have not had measles.”

Those planning to update their measles vaccine before traveling should try to do so two weeks before travel to achieve optimal immunity, the Ministry of Health advises.

With files from The Canadian Press

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