British Columbia

B.C. officials preach caution following measles outbreak in Washington State

So far no cases of the infectious disease have been reported in B.C. due to the outbreak in Washington State where there are currently 31 recorded cases.

31 cases reported across the border; no spillover into B.C. yet

Health officials are asking residents in B.C. to check their immunization records for measles as the disease spreads in Washington State. (Mike Hutmatcher/Wichita Eagle/The Canadian Press)

Health officials in British Columbia are warning residents about a measles outbreak in Washington State.

There have been 30 recorded cases of the infectious disease in the state's Clark County — just north of Portland, Ore. — in January. There has been one recorded case in King County, which is the area around Seattle.

Officials there say they expect more cases.

"It's not a very rapidly moving disease, it takes a week to three for someone to become sick," said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, a public health officer for Seattle and King County, in an interview with King 5.

"So we can expect to continue to see cases related to this outbreak for many weeks and probably many months."

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) says, so far, there have been no infections in B.C. due to the Washington State outbreak.

Symptoms

Measles is highly infectious and spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing, as well as respiratory secretions.

It can cause fever, running rose and watery, inflamed eyes along with small red spots with white or bluish centres in the mouth and a dusky red, blotchy rash that begins on the face and spreads according to the BCCDC.

A single case has been reported in Oregon State, due to the outbreak.

Check immunizations

The BCCDC is warning B.C. residents who may have recently travelled to communities with infections that they could have been exposed.

It wants people in B.C. to review and update their immunization status.

Around 88 per cent of children in the province have been sufficiently vaccinated against the disease. However the BCCDC says a 95 per cent vaccination rate is recommended to interrupt transmission.

In 2018, six cases of measles were reported among B.C. residents. Two were acquired by people travelling to India and Philippines. The other four were infected from imported cases.

So far this year, there has been one case of measles in B.C. It was acquired by an adult traveller returning from the Philippines.

The BCCBC says the last large outbreaks of measles in the province were in 2014 and 2010.

Those who are concerned about their potential measles exposure but have no symptoms can call 8-1-1 and speak to a nurse.

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