After an initial case of a baby who contracted measles after travelling to the Philippines, more cases of the disease have been found in Saskatchewan.
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The latest two cases have been found in adults who were not up-to-date with their immunizations in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region. This brings the total cases in the province up to four, more than in the last two years combined.
“If you aren’t up-to-date with your measles immunization, there is a chance you will get it,” Prince Albert Parkland Health Region chief medical office Dr. Khami Chokani said.
‘If you have travelled down and maybe have come in contact with those people or … in those particular places when infected individuals were there, there is a chance, yes, that you can get the measles.”
Chokani said it is especially important to vaccine your children against all viruses, not just measles.
“You have to offer them that protection,” Chokani said. “We do know that immunizations offer the protection.”
Although there have been many rumours, given more weight by celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy that vaccines cause other health problems, Chokani said they are not true.
“I know there has always been that talk of linking measles or the MMR vaccine with autism,” Chokani said. “That has been debunked and disproven not only by various experts in the health field in Canada and North America but internationally.
“Vaccine technology has come a long way,” Chokani said. “The way we produce our vaccines is different, our understanding is much better and the vaccines are safe. They really are safe.”
Chokani explained how vaccines are given to teach your body to ward off certain viruses.
“What the vaccine does is helps the body be able to recognize that organism even when it tried to camouflage itself or, as we say, mutate itself, which is what we are facing with influenza H1N1 virus that is going around,” Chokani said. “There has been some mutation in it but for those who take the flu shot, the flu shot allows your body to recognize the core.”
The same is true for other viruses, such as measles.
“The core doesn’t change -- it is the envelope, the covering of the virus that keeps changing,” Chokani said. “Your vaccine will make you be aware and know that is a bad organism. Just because it is coming in with a green envelope doesn’t mean it is good. It is as bad as the other one that came with a brown envelope.”
When you don’t protect your children by vaccinating them or do not get vaccinated yourself, you put them at risk of contracting many different viruses.
“The child does deserve a right to life, a right to live and what we should be doing as a community is offering them that,” Chokani said. “We need to protect them and the only way we can protect them is by providing that herd immunity. The way you get herd immunity is more of us need to be immunized so these various organisms do not have a chance to get a foothold and then infect our kids and make them sick.”
Chokani asked everyone to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date to help with herd immunity.
“Please, if you are not sure if your measles vaccine is up-to-date, please get in touch with your family physician or get in touch with your public health nursing office and they will be able to check to see what your immunization status is,” Chokani said. “If necessary that you do require a booster dose, they can arrange for it and you can receive it.
“It is free of charge. Please, there is no reason not to make sure you are up-to-date with all your immunizations.”
Measles is a highly infectious disease that can be transmitted through the air. Some signs and symptoms are high fever, cough and runny nose, followed by a rash that commonly starts on the face before spreading to the rest of the body.
The earliest someone will start to show symptoms is one week following exposure. If you show any of the symptoms, phone your health care provider to make an appointment, identifying you may have been exposed to measles, or call HealthLine at 811 for more information.
In Regina, people could have been exposed to the measles at any of the following establishments during the week of Jan. 13-17:
• Security Building Supplies, all five days;
• South Albert location of Chapters book store and attached Starbucks Coffee on Jan. 13 between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.;
• Sobeys South Albert location on Jan. 13 between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.;
• Lawson Aquatic Centre, both the pool facility and common areas on Jan. 14 between 12 and 5:50 p.m.;
• Safeway 13th Avenue location on Jan. 14 between 3 and 6:30 p.m.;
• Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt Quance Street location on Jan. 14 between 8 and 11 p.m.;
• Argyle Park Community Center on Jan 14 between 7:30 and 10 p.m. and Jan. 15 between 7:30 and 9 p.m.;
• Uplands Community Center on Jan. 14 between 6:30 and 9 p.m.