Dr. Frank Atherton

Dr. Frank Atherton, the province's deputy chief medical officer of health, said Nova Scotia has not seen a case of the measles in 14 years. (CBC)

Doctors in Nova Scotia are asking parents to have their children immunized for the measles after an infant on a flight to Toronto from Abu Dhabi was found to have a case of the measles last month.

The measles — an illness most of the western world considers to be eradicated —​ are a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus. In Nova Scotia, there has not been a case for 14 years. 

Adele Mitchell believes it is important for her six-year-old grandson Austin to be immunized.

"I recall when I was much younger, my brother had the measles," said Mitchell. "He was very sick and he almost died."

Dr. Howard Conter, a family physician who has been practising for almost 30 years, said he's only encountered a couple of parents who have refused to immunize their children.

He said that occurs when parents do not believe the measles are a serious problem or because they saw old research studies suggesting the vaccine causes autism. Those studies have since been discredited.

The Department of Health and Wellness says 95 per cent of children in this province are getting their measles shots — one of the reasons the province has been successful in battling the illness.

"In rare cases — one in 1,000 — get pneumonia or neurological problems," said Dr. Frank Atherton, the province's deputy chief medical officer of health. "Rare, but one in every 3,000 can be fatal."

Officials say while all children should be immunized, not all adults need it. Most people born before 1970 have either had measles as or been exposed to the virus, resulting in immunity.

Doctors can order a simple blood test to determine whether someone has immunity. The province provides free immunizations to everyone.