British Columbia

Fraser Valley measles outbreak reaches Metro Vancouver campus

A college student in Burnaby, B.C., has been diagnosed with a case of measles related to the recent Chilliwack outbreak, health officials say. Roughly 100 cases of measles have been reported in the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver.

Fraser Health warns other Burnaby students may have been exposed to measles linked to Chilliwack

A BCIT student may have exposed a hundred others in Burnaby to the highly-contagious virus, which is spreading in the Fraser Valley 2:34

A college student who attends classes in Burnaby, B.C., has been diagnosed with a case of measles related to the recent Fraser Valley outbreak, in which roughly 100 cases of measles have been reported in Chilliwack and Agassiz.

Fraser Health said Saturday morning that the infected student was at the British Columbia Institute of Technology's Burnaby campus on March 6 and 7.

A student who used the J.W. Inglis Building (NE1) at BCIT's Burnaby campus last week has been diagnosed with measles. Health officials say the infection is linked to the outbreak in Chilliwack. (CBC)

The health authority said the student used building NE1 — which is also known as the J.W. Inglis Building and houses various trades classrooms and shops.

"Fraser Health is working with BCIT to alert students who may have come in contact with this particular student of a possible exposure to measles," the health authority said in a written statement.

BCIT spokesman Dave Pinton said those alerts were mostly sent out electronically.

"BCIT has informed about 128 individuals, with individualized emails, of the potential exposure," Pinton said.

"As an extra precautionary measure, we've also sent out emails to all faculty, staff and students who attend the BCIT Burnaby campus," he said.

The measles virus is passed through airborne droplets and direct personal contact. (U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention)

Fraser Health said students who were in the NE1 building on March 6 or 7 will be allowed to return to class on Monday if they were born before 1970, have had measles in the past, or have had two documented doses of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Van Buynder said the restriction on attendance is an attempt to control the further spread of the virus.

"If they were unvaccinated and they were in that area, then we're asking them not to return to campus before the 29th of March, when that will be the end of the likely period that they'll develop measles," Van Buynder said.

Measles spreads by touch or through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.

Health officials are asking anyone with symptoms to isolate themselves at home and call ahead to their doctor, health unit, or hospital if their symptoms become severe enough to need medical attention.

Fraser Valley outbreak grows

Roughly 100 cases of the measles have been reported east of Metro Vancouver in the Fraser Valley, prompting health officials to warn on Thursday that cases have begun spreading outside of the previous cluster linked to an area that that has a low incidence of immunization.

Pregnant women should avoid the antigenic vaccine, but can seek protection with immunoglobulins, Dr. Meena Dawar said. (CBC)

Van Buynder said Friday that only one nine-year-old girl has been admitted to hospital so far, but about 80 new cases had been reported in the general populations of the two Fraser Valley municipalities of Chilliwack and Agassiz.

Dozens of cases were also reported at a Christian School in Chilliwack with a low vaccination rate. That school has been temporarily closed.

Fraser Health issued a warning about the measles outbreak that extended to all areas of Fraser Valley East, including Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Hope.

Special vaccination clinics in Chilliwack and Agassiz are being organized for early next week and their locations will be available on Fraser Health's website.

Measles makes a comeback

Health officials had virtually eradicated measles from Canada, but the highly-contagious disease is making a resurgence.

Dr. Van Buynder said people aren't taking measles seriously enough and seeking vaccinations, and the effects can be deadly.

"This is the second outbreak in two years in Fraser East. People need to understand that these are nasty diseases and they're coming back to Canada if they don't vaccinate their children," he said.

Fraser Health says children under the age of five are most at risk of serious complications.

What are the symptoms of measles?

Symptoms of measles may develop seven to 21 days after exposure to an infected person.

A red blotchy rash begins to appear on the face three to seven days after the start of symptoms. (U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention)

Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose, cough, drowsiness, irritability and red and inflamed eyes. Small white spots may appear in the mouth and throat.

A red blotchy rash begins to appear on the face three to seven days after the start of symptoms, then spreads down the body to the arms and legs. This rash usually lasts four to seven days.

Symptoms generally last from one to two weeks.

READ: Fraser Health public service announcement (Mar. 13)

With files from the CBC's Tim Weekes