Health officers in N.S. and N.B. warn of potential exposure to measles virus

Health officers in N.S. and N.B. warn of potential exposure to measles virus

Atlantic CTV

Published Monday, April 29, 2019 5:02 PM ADT

Last Updated Tuesday, 30th April, 2019 7:43 AM ADT

Public health officials in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are warning the public about possible exposure to measles infected patients.

The patient requested medical attention at Halifax Hospital and St. John's Regional Hospital in mid-April.

Officials of anyone who visited the Halifax Hospital emergency room on 17 April between 12 pm and 12:30 p.m. may be exposed to the disease.

The infected patient was exposed to the emergency room and the x-ray room at St. John's Regional Hospital. Officials say that anyone who visited the hospital from April 18 to April 22 may come into contact with the disease.

“We are asking them to check their immunization records to ensure they have two doses of measles vaccine and to look for signs and symptoms of measles,” said Dr. Jessica Jackman, health officer in Nova Scotia. “And if these symptoms develop, contact their healthcare provider.”

Measles is a highly contagious disease with initial symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes. Most infected people develop symptoms anywhere between 10 and 20 days after being exposed to an infected person.

“And then a few days later, he starts with a red blotchy rash that starts on the face and spreads down through the rest of the body,” Jackman said.

Public health officers confirmed that the recently infected patient traveled internationally.

UNICEF said Canada, in a statement that the growth of measles in the world, saying "in the first three months of 2019, reported more than 110,000 measles cases in the world." It increased these numbers by almost 300 per cent from the same period last year.

Chris Richardson, professor of microbiology and immunology at Dalhousie University, studied the virus for 40 years. He says he is worried that more children may suffer and may even die.

“There may be death in one patient out of every 1,000 and usually caused by inflammation of the brain,” said Richardson.

The New Health Authority says it will be difficult to track how many people come forward with concerns that they are exposed, as they are asked to go to their primary care provider.

Health professionals say that the best way to catch the virus is to vaccinate.

“So, when you have both doses, it's basically 100 per cent,” said Troy Marchand, a pharmacist in Halifax.

Adults born in or after 1970 require two doses of measles vaccine to be protected against measles.

It is estimated that adults born before 1970 are protected against measles by natural immunity.

A doctor can make vaccines free of charge or for a small fee from any pharmacist.

Health officials are advising anyone who has measles symptoms to contact their medical care provider before they arrive so that they can make sure that the patient is not exposing the virus to the other patient.

With files from Heidi Petracek and Marie Adsett from CTV Atlantic

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