Friday, August 9, 2013

Health News

Measles Alert

FHA warns of possible infections, urge vaccinations

Released by Fraser Health Authority/Voice file photo of CMHO Dr. Byander


he Chief Medical Health Officer (CMHO) of Fraser Health is warning residents living in Fraser East communities (Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Hope) of a rise in measles cases in low immunized areas of the region.

The most recent exposure to this highly contagious virus has occurred in a post-natal unit at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre. Up to 60 women and newborns have been exposed to the virus by a visitor who was infectious with early measles at the time. Public Health staff are contacting the affected families directly to offer immunoglobulin in order to reduce the chance of the infection developing.

"The exposure of newborn children to this virus is a very concerning situation. They are too young to respond to the vaccine and some will not have received protection in utero from their mothers. This comes after a recent death of a child from pertussis, another vaccine preventable disease," said Dr. Paul Van Buynder, Chief Medical Health Officer for Fraser Health in a release on Thursday. "It is a timely reminder that not vaccinating children can have consequences for other vulnerable infants. The best protection against measles is to get vaccinated. We are encouraging everyone who has not yet been vaccinated against measles to contact their doctor or health provider to receive the free MMR vaccine."

Relatively low immunization rates in some parts of Fraser East have led to several clusters of the virus in previous years; the most recent being in April of 2010 shortly after the Olympic Games.

The most effective protection against the virus is two doses of the vaccine which is free to all those born after 1957. Residents are encouraged to contact their regular health provider to receive the vaccination.

If residents suspect they have been exposed or have developed symptoms, they should see their medical practitioner and notify the medical practitioner's office before arriving in order to prevent the spread of the disease to others at the clinic.

Copyright (c) 2013 The Valley Voice