Chief public health officer declares measles outbreak in Inuvik

A second person has developed measles in Inuvik, following an initial health advisory issued on Feb. 22.

A 2nd person has developed measles in Inuvik, following an initial health advisory on Feb. 22

There are now two confirmed cases of measles in Inuvik, N.W.T. (CBC)

The N.W.T.'s chief public health officer has declared a measles outbreak in Inuvik, according to a Wednesday press release.

This comes after a health advisory was issued in February, after a child infected with the measles flew from an international destination to Inuvik.

There are now two people in the N.W.T. infected with measles, both in Inuvik. The second person infected showed signs of the illness on Feb. 28.

The health advisory says the timeframe for increased risk of another person developing measles extends to around March 26.

"At this time we do not expect other individuals outside of Inuvik to develop measles," the advisory says.

People who are likely immune include:

  • People born before 1970. 
  • People born after 1970, but who are 18 or older with one documented doses of measles vaccine. 
  • People between 12 months and 18 years old with two documented doses of measles vaccine. 

What to watch for

The advisory says anyone who is not immune should "immediately" contact their local care provider and talk about getting immunized. 

N.W.T.'s chief public health officer Kami Kandola said they're asking the health authorities to provide the second vaccination earlier.

Typically, children get their first vaccination around their first birthday, and their second vaccination around age 4. But Kandola says they are encouraging health authorities to give the second dose four weeks after the first. 

People who don't know if they or their children has been vaccinated are also advised to book an appointment with their local public health unit. 

Kandola also said unvaccinated children are not immune to measles. If these children may have been exposed they should contact the health authority, and possibly stay at home for 21 days — that is the full incubation period for measles. 

She said the majority of people who have been exposed are up to date on their shots or only need one more shot. "There's only really a few, a handful that we need to exclude for the full 21 days of incubation."

Anyone who is susceptible to the illness should look for a number of symptoms: fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes or a face rash that spreads to the chest. Residents are advised to call their health care provider if they notice symptoms, and are advised to remain at home. 

"Calling ahead ensures health facilities can take precautions to prevent transmission of measles to others," the advisory says.

The health advisory includes multiple possible times of exposure:

  • Feb. 16, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Inuvik Regional Hospital, emergency department and x-ray department
  • Feb. 17, 12 p.m.-3:30 p.m.: Inuvik Regional Hospital, emergency department
  • Feb. 18, 10:30 a.m.-2: p.m.: Inuvik Regional Hospital, emergency department
  • Feb. 19, 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m.: Inuvik Regional Hospital, laboratory, and cafeteria
  • Feb. 25-28: 7:45 a.m.-7:15 p.m.: Children's First Day Care 

"Thankfully a lot of the attendees at the day care are immunized," said Kandola. "What is important is people are up to date on their immunizations."