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Vancouver Coastal warns of measles outbreak

WHISTLER (NEWS1130) – The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority says there have been four cases of the measles in Whistler and Pemberton.

Doctors are urging anyone who is not protected to get a vaccine.

The measles is spread through the air when someone who has the disease coughs or sneezes. Vancouver Coastal warns you all it takes is just a few minutes in the same room as someone to get it. However, it notes the closer the contact, the higher the risk.

The virus can survive in closed areas like bathrooms for up to two hours after an infected person was there. The measles can also be spread through sharing food, drinks or cigarettes or kissing a person with measles.

Doctors say people who have the disease are infected from four days before to four days after the onset of a rash.

Measles can be deadly for very young children and seniors.

“There is a possibility that incomplete immunization or non-immunization has led to this community exposure.”

Dr. Paul Martiquet insists the vaccine is safe.

Kindergarten vaccinations have been decreasing across BC over the last seven years, Vancouver Coastal Health is concerned with the trend.

“That’s why we’re trying to get the word out so people won’t be complacent about immunizing their newborns and their infants.”

Who needs a vaccine?

Vancouver Coastal Health says people born in or after 1994 should be protected, as long as they received the routine two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) in their childhood.

“If you were born before 1994, or grew up outside of BC, you may have received only one dose of the vaccine and require a second dose,” it advises on its website.

“If you were born before 1970, you are likely to be immune to measles. However, if you aren’t sure if you ever had the infection, an MMR vaccine is safe and recommended.”

The health authority says if you’re not sure about your history, it’s best to get vaccinated, but if you have ever had the measles, you don’t need a shot.

Measles vaccinations are available for free at VCH public health units; some doctors offices and pharmacies may charge a fee.

Click here to find a clinic.

What are the symptoms?

  • fever
  • red eyes, which may be sensitive to light
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • rash

What should you do if you think you have the measles?

If you have a fever and rash, you should isolate yourself by staying home and visit your doctor. Before going, call your doctor’s office so that they can take precautions to protect other patients.

If you think you have measles, please call VCH Public Health at 1-855-675-3900 during regular business hours, and ask for the nurse on call, to report your illness.

How is it treated?

Measles is a serious illness with no specific treatment, but most people recover within a week or two.

If you have measles:

Drink plenty of fluids such as water, juice and soup, especially if you have a fever
Get plenty of rest.
Stay away from other people as much as you can so that you don’t spread the disease.
If your child has measles, keep him or her out of school and activities until at least 4 days after the rash first appeared. Keep your child out longer if he or she is not feeling well.
Your doctor may suggest vitamin A supplements for your child.