Person with measles put customers of two Banff shops at risk, health authority says

Measles is a serious respiratory disease marked by a distinctive blotchy red rash and a fever. It's extremely contagious and can be spread through air.

Alberta Health Services is asking people who were there to watch for symptoms

A person with lab-confirmed measles went into two shops in Banff late last month. (Radio-Canada)

A man with lab-confirmed measles has been in two Banff businesses while infectious, Alberta Health Services says.

The health authority is warning the public to watch for symptoms, if they are susceptible to catching the highly contagious disease.

The person diagnosed with measles went to the following Banff shops:

  • OK Gift Shop at 209 Banff Avenue on May 25 between 1:45 p.m. and closing.
  • IGA at 318 Marten Street on May 30 between 5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.

Officials have reached out to about 100 people who potentially had contact with the ill person. Some of these people are now in quarantine, Calgary zone medical officer of health Dr. Judy MacDonald said Tuesday.

You may be at risk of contracting measles, Alberta Health Services says, if you were at those location at those times and you were born after 1970, and you either have not had measles or have not received two doses of the measles vaccine.

Health officials suspect the infected man, who lives and works in the Banff area, caught the disease from a tourist, as he has not travelled recently. MacDonald noted Japan is reporting new cases.

"We know that measles is doing very well in other parts of the world and so anyone that comes from a measles area to visit could bring measles here," she said.

The case was reported to the health authority on the weekend.

Contagious and preventable

Measles is a serious respiratory disease marked by a distinctive blotchy red rash and a fever. It's extremely contagious and can be spread through the air.

After contamination, the virus can be contracted by air for up to two hours later.

A nurse draws a dose of vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella. (Mike Hutmatcher/Wichita Eagle/The Canadian Press)

It can be prevented by immunization but not everyone has been vaccinated adequately. Earlier versions of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which many adults received as children, only included one dose. The modern vaccine includes two doses, and is offered for free in Alberta.

The health authority asks at-risk people to watch for symptoms, which include all of the following:

  • Fever of 38.3 C or high.
  • Cough, runny nose and/or red eyes.
  • Red blotchy rash, which appears three to seven days after fever begins. The rash first shows up behind the ears and on the face. It then spreads across the body to the legs and arms.

People with the virus are contagious from one day before symptoms appear to four days after the rash begins, she said.

"I guess the scary thing is that you can be infectious even before you have symptoms," MacDonald said.

If you have not been vaccinated for measles, or if you're unsure of your immunization history, you can contact Health Link at 811 or your local public health office.

Children usually receive the first dose at 12 months and the second between age four and six.

Measles is especially dangerous for infants and children. It can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, hearing impairment and, in rare cases, death.

With files from Colleen Underwood