Eight confirmed cases of measles in Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver Coastal Health says there have been eight confirmed cases of measles in the Vancouver area this week.

“We now have an outbreak of measles in Vancouver,” says Dr. Althea Hayden, a medical health officer with VCH.

RELATED: Petition asks for mandatory vaccines in B.C.

These cases are all linked to French-language secondary school École Jules-Verne, including staff, students and their family members. VCH has not been able to notify everyone who may have been exposed, and is urging people who are not vaccinated against measles, or haven’t had a second dose to get a booster shot now.

But, the broader public isn’t affected right now, Hayden says.

“We can’t be 100 per cent certain, but, despite the fact that we have a relatively high number of cases, these cases are concentrated in one small community,” she says. “The best thing that people, both in that community and in the broader public can do to protect themselves, is to make sure their immunizations are up-to-date.”

One of the infected people visited the emergency room at B.C. Children’s Hospital. If you visited the hospital during these times and have symptoms of measles, VCH is asking that you call your doctor.

    • January 21, 2019 – 10am to 6:10pm
    • January 23, 2019 – 4:45pm to 11:10pm
    • January 24, 2019 – 8:13am to 11:40am
    • February 1, 2019 – 2:05pm to 6:55pm

If you went to the emergency room on Feb. 1, you may not be showing symptoms yet.

RELATED: Case of measles confirmed in Vancouver

Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes, usually followed by a rash a day a later, which starts on the face and spreads down to the torso. You can read more about measles on VCH’s website, and find a list of immunization clinics where you can receive free measles vaccines here.

The first case of measles in Vancouver was confirmed over the weekend.

The second was confirmed on Wednesday, and a third – and possible fourth case — were confirmed early Friday.

That number has risen to eight and, now that there have been several confirmed cases in Vancouver, VCH says there’s a chance more people have been exposed.

“Since a number of cases have now been confirmed in our community, there’s an increased chance of an unidentified exposure in the community,” Hayden  says. “Those who not immunized or incompletely immunized are at highest risk of developing measles.”

RELATED: B.C. health minister urges parents to get kids vaccinated against measles

It is believed the infections were originally caught overseas.

Hayden says the vast majority of cases have come from people who were born after 1970, haven’t received any measles vaccines, or have only received one dose of the vaccine.

People who have had the infection don’t need to be immunized. Children born after 1994 in B.C. have likely received two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR), but people born before that time or outside of B.C. may not have received both doses. People born before 1970 are likely immune.

Vancouver Coastal Health recommends anyone who isn’t sure on their immunization or disease history to be vaccinated.

Cases linked to French-language schools

Earlier today, VCH confirmed three cases of measles involving French language schools in Vancouver, two of which share a playground and use the same school bus company.

Most of the people who were exposed there have already been vaccinated.

These are the three schools where the disease has been exposed:

École Jules-Verne (first 2 cases)
École Anne-Hébert (third case)
École Rose-Des-Vents (suspected)

Notices were sent to parents at the three schools yesterday.

“We are collecting information from people including parents, kids, and staff from the affected schools. We need to figure out where people have been, who they’ve been in contact with, have they had any symptoms,” Tiffany Akins with VCH said earlier today.

Parents should have been notified earlier: PAC President

Earlier today, when only three cases had been confirmed at three French-language schools in Vancouver, Eric Leblanc – École Rose-Des-Vents PAC President told NEWS 1130 he wished parents had been told about the confirmed cases of measles earlier.

Parents at the schools were sent a letter about cases, but it came after they had already picked their children up from school. That delay was not ideal, he says, because some parents may have brought babies and toddlers with them to pick their other children up from school. Children aren’t routinely given the first dose of measles vaccine until 12 months of age in B.C.

“Parents will come pick up their kids with a baby sometimes, a little brother or sister,” he says.

He says it would have been better to give the parents more notice so they would be sure not to bring those younger children along with them in case their child had contracted the disease.

Schools École Jules-Verne and École Rose-Des-Vents were both affected as they shared the same playground. All three schools share the same bus service.

– With files from Marcella Bernardo, CityNews Vancouver, Denise Wong

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