AHS warns of possible measles exposure at locations in Calgary and Cochrane

Alberta Health Services issued a warning on Thursday that someone with a lab-confirmed case of measles may have exposed members of the public to the illness at several locations in Calgary and Cochrane earlier this month.

Preventive immunization available for those exposed Tuesday who never got vaccine

Symptoms of measles include fever of 38.3 C or higher, and a cough, runny nose and/or red eyes, and a red blotchy rash. (U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention)

Alberta Health Services issued a warning on Thursday that someone with a lab-confirmed case of measles may have exposed members of the public to the illness at several locations in Calgary and Cochrane.

Anyone who was exposed on Tuesday, in the locations and time frames noted below — and who has no history of receiving any measles-containing vaccine — will be offered a preventive immunization on Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Brentwood Mall AHS Immunization Clinic.

AHS says the person with measles was at the following locations during the specified dates and times:

March 5:

  • Exposure Location: Tim Hortons, 12 Westside Dr., Cochrane.
    Time Period: 8:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
     
  • Exposure Location: Multi-business facility, 110 Second Ave. W., Cochrane.
    Time Period: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
     
  • Exposure Location: Cumbrian Arms Pub, 57 W. Aasby Rd., Cochrane.
    Time Period: 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. (March 6).

March 6:

  • Exposure Location: Multi-business facility, 110 Second Ave. W., Cochrane.
    Time Period: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

March 8:

  • Exposure Location: Rexall Pharmacy, 305 First St. W., Cochrane.
    Time Period: 1 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

March 11:

  • Exposure Location: Multi-business facility, 110 Second Ave. W., Cochrane.
    Time Period: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
     
  • Exposure Location: Yoshi Grill, 204 Fifth Ave., Cochrane.
    Time Period: 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
     
  • Exposure Location: Save-on-Foods, 65 Bow St., Cochrane.
    Time Period: 7:15 p.m. to 10 p.m.

March 12:

  • Exposure Location: Cabela's, 851 64th Ave. N.E., Calgary.
    Time Period: 12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m.
     
  • Exposure Location: Re:Grub, Deerfoot City Mall, 901 64th Ave. N.E., Unit 5113, Calgary.
    Time Period: 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
     
  • Exposure Location: Bella Concert Hall, Mount Royal University, 4824 Mt. Royal Gate S.W., Calgary.
    Time Period: 7:15 p.m. to 11:45 p.m.

It is imperative that only those who are eligible, as per this above criteria, attend the Friday clinic. This ensures AHS has the opportunity to immunize those who can still benefit, at this time, from the preventative treatment," AHS said in a release.

People who were exposed on dates other than March 12 are no longer eligible for preventative vaccine. But those people should still review their immunization history and call Health Link for advice or to book an appointment at their local community health centre, AHS said.

People who were in the Cochrane and Calgary locations on either March 11 or 12 who are pregnant, under one year of age, or who have a weakened immune system due to disease or medication should contact Health Link at 811 for an assessment. They might be eligible for prophylactic medication to prevent measles.

People who were in the above locations in the time frames noted above who were born after 1970 — and have not already had measles or have not received two doses of measles vaccine — may also be at risk for developing measles.

These people should monitor themselves for symptoms of measles and stay home and call Health Link at 811 if symptoms do appear, AHS said.

'It is very frustrating'

Dr. Jia Hu, medical officer of health for the Calgary zone, said the measles vaccine is "very, very effective" and public health officials are concerned and frustrated by the number of people who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children.

"Definitely, it is very frustrating," he told reporters.

"We have seen that around the world there's been an increase in cases of measles and part of that has been driven by people who are delaying or refusing vaccination."

Some people are unable to be vaccinated, however — including infants, people with particular types of underlying health conditions and those undergoing chemotherapy — and must rely on "herd" immunity to prevent infection.

There is no specific treatment for measles, Hu said.

Dr. Jia Hu is the medical officer of health for the Calgary zone. (Mike Symington/CBC)

He said most people who get measles simply get better on their own, with time, but it can lead to severe complications in some cases, including about five per cent of people who develop lung infections.

The disease is fatal in about 0.1 to 0.2 per cent of cases, he said.

"You can also have brain swelling and other neurologic complications," Hu added.

"All of which is to say that measles, while mild in most people, can be quite severe in some people, which is why it's so important to be immunized."

Measles symptoms

Symptoms of measles include:

  • fever of 38.3 C or higher; and
  • cough, runny nose and/or red eyes; and
  • a red blotchy rash that appears three to seven days after fever starts, beginning behind the ears and on the face and spreading down the body and then to the arms and legs.

Measles is a very contagious disease that spreads easily through the air. There is no treatment, but it can be prevented through immunization.

The measles vaccine is offered, free of charge, through the province's publicly funded immunization program.

Children in Alberta typically get their first dose of measles vaccine at 12 months and their second dose between the ages of four and six years.


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