Health officials are trying to keep a measles outbreak that started in southern Alberta from spreading to other parts of the province.

“The success we’ve had in the south is sustainable,” said Dr. James Talbot, chief medical officer of health for Alberta. “And we are doing our best to maintain that kind of control, but we have taken precautions in the rest of the province.”

Right now, there are 28 cases of measles in Alberta.

The first case was reported in the Lethbridge area at the end of October. It’s believed to have been brought in by a traveller who visited the Netherlands.

On average, there’s fewer than two cases each year, Talbot said.

“This is the less common outcome,” he said about the current outbreak. “And it happens when somebody goes into a community where a significant amount of people decided not to immunize and when that happens we get transmission.”

Health officials are urging parents to have their children immunized at age one and again when they start school. Younger children are more at risk if exposed to the measles.

“Under the age of one, if you were to get the measles, there’s a higher risk of substantial complications,” Talbot said. “Those include brain damage, damage to the lungs and death:”

Symptoms of measles include high fever, coughing, runny nose, red eyes and a rash that appears three to seven days after the fever starts.  

Both the Catholic and public school boards in Edmonton have sent letters home to parents, warning them of the outbreak.

If you think that you may have been exposed to the measles, Alberta Health warns against visiting a clinic or hospital to help reduce the spread of the disease.  People should instead call Health Link at 1-866-408-5465.