New Brunswick

Risk from confirmed case of measles in greater Moncton is 'probably very low'

A New Brunswick health official says the risk to the public from a confirmed case of measles in the greater Moncton area is "probably very low."

Infected individual in Montreal was asymptomatic while in the region Sept. 19-20, says Dr. Yves Léger

Dr. Yves Léger, medical officer of health for the Moncton region, says if you were not at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Dieppe or the airport Sept. 19-20, there is little concern about contracting measles. (CBC)

A New Brunswick health official says the risk to the public from a confirmed case of measles in the greater Moncton area is "probably very low."

The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a warning Wednesday night of potential exposure to an infected individual in Montreal who was in the Moncton region Sept. 19-20 before flying to Montreal.

But Dr. Yves Léger, medical officer of health for the east region, says the person was not exhibiting any symptoms at the time.

"So they may have been not very contagious or maybe not contagious at all when they were here, but of course we want to play it safe and make sure that we inform the public and do our due diligence," Léger told CBC News on Thursday.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that's transmitted through the air or by direct contact with an infected individual.

Complications can include ear infections, pneumonia, blindness and swelling of the brain, which can cause seizures, deafness, brain damage or death.

A recent outbreak in the Saint John region saw 12 people diagnosed between April and July.

"We do take these things very seriously," Léger said.

"Measles can be a pretty serious disease if you're not protected, you're not immunized. It's one that can spread fairly easily as well, so that's also very concerning."

Based on information provided by Montreal public health officials, members of the public were potentially exposed to the latest confirmed case if they:

  • Were at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Dieppe between 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 19 and 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 20.
  • Were at the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport's departures area on Sept. 20, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Were on Air Canada flight 8903 to Montreal, which departed Moncton on Sept. 20 at 11:15 a.m.

People who were not at those locations on those dates at those times "shouldn't be concerned," said Léger.

Anyone who was should monitor themselves for symptoms until Oct. 11, which is 21 days after possible exposure — the incubation period of measles, he said.

Contagious before rash appears

Early symptoms, which usually begin within 12 to 14 days, may include fever, cough, runny nose, red or sore eyes, sleepiness, irritability and tiny white spots in the mouth.

About three to seven days after those symptoms start, the telltale red, blotchy rash usually develops on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body.

People can be contagious for about four days before the rash appears.

Anyone exhibiting symptoms should self-isolate and seek advice from Tele-Care, the provincial health information line, by dialling 811.

Public Health advises people who were potentially exposed to the infected individual to check their immunization records or contact their health-care provider if they're unsure about their immunization status. (CBC)

People who seek medical attention should call ahead before visiting a doctor's office, clinic or hospital so precautions can be put in place to protect other patients.

Public Health is preparing a letter to advise physicians, so they can also be on the look-out for symptoms and has advised the emergency rooms at the Moncton Hospital and the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre, the Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network, as well as Ambulance New Brunswick, said Léger.

Measles is diagnosed through blood and urine tests and swabs of the nose and throat.

There is no cure for the disease, but treatment is available to relieve symptoms and prevent complications.

Two doses of the measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) is generally about 97 per cent effective in protecting people against measles.

Adults born before 1970 are considered immune.

With files from Kate Letterick

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