Saskatchewan infant contracts measles

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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With children over 12 months being vaccinated, it is not common to see many cases of measles in the province.

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An unimmunized infant who contracted measles after travelling by air to Saskatchewan has prompted the Ministry of Health to issue a warning to other passengers who may have been on the same flight.

The child and family flew from the Philippines to Vancouver on Jan. 2, then on to Calgary before arriving in Regina. Health officials said passengers who were on those flights may have been exposed to measles.

“Measles cases are quite uncommon in Saskatchewan, but this situation underscores the importance of vaccinations,” deputy chief medical health officer Denise Werker said in a news release.  

“The risk of exposure to highly contagious diseases can be particularly high during busy travel seasons, for people travelling within Canada as well as to and from countries experiencing measles outbreaks.”

The infant is receiving treatment and recovering, Werker indicated. There has been one other confirmed case of measles in the new year, which also involved a person who travelled from the Philippines although they know that case was not infectious during travel.

The Ministry of Health is working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada and health officials in B.C. and Alberta to monitor the situation and take necessary action if needed.

Since the cases of measles are under control and have not affected the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region, communications officer for PAPHR Doug Dahl said people in the region should not be worried.

“It has just been that case,” he said. “The only thing we would do is encourage anybody who was on those same flights, if they were on those flights and they start to show symptoms they should see their family doctor.”

The flights in question were:

• On Jan. 2, Philippine Airlines PR116, Manila to Vancouver, which arrived at 4:30 p.m;

• On Jan. 7, West Jet 544, Vancouver to Calgary, departed at 8 a.m. and arrived at 10:25 a.m. and;

• On Jan. 7, West Jet 314, Calgary to Regina, departed at 12:05 p.m. and arrived at 2:30 p.m.

The Ministry of Health said measles is a highly infectious and potentially serious disease that is easily 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.

Most travellers could have unknowingly been exposed to people with measles since it occurs more frequently outside of the Americas, with large outbreaks happening in the Netherlands and the Philippines.

Parents with children six to 12 months of age should consider have their infants vaccinated before travelling and also seek travel advice about other diseases that may pose a risk when travelling.

“Two doses of measles vaccine are required for maximum protection,” the news release stated. “Measles vaccination is usually offered in combination with mumps and rubella in one vaccine at 12 months and again at 18 months.”

For information on measles symptoms, treatment and vaccination, the public can call HealthLine at 811, or visit www.saskatchewan.ca/live/health-and-healthy-living/prevention-and-treatment/measles.

Organizations: Ministry of Health, Public Health Agency of Canada

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Philippines, Vancouver Calgary Regina Canada B.C. Alberta Manila Americas Netherlands

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