AHS officials dealing with growing measles outbreak in southern Alberta
Published Wednesday, October 30, 2013 5:08PM MDT Last Updated Wednesday, October 30, 2013 6:39PM MDT
Alberta Health Services is preparing to deal with a measles outbreak that officials believe could spread into other regions of the province.
AHS said nine cases of measles have been confirmed in the Lethbridge area, and on Wednesday afternoon, the AHS website said 12 cases had been confirmed, and while none have been confirmed in other parts of the province, AHS said it’s likely the disease will continue to spread.
“Even though we do have high immunization rates, they likely won’t be high enough to prevent spread of this disease,” Dr. Chris Sikora, the AHS Medical Officer of Health for Edmonton said Wednesday.
Officials believe a Lethbridge child picked up the disease during a trip overseas – and the student went to school while still contagious, and it spread to eight other children.
In the Edmonton area, AHS is preparing for cases to be reported because it’s an airborne illness that spreads quickly – officials are ensuring health care workers are immunized.
“It is spreading amongst individuals who are either under vaccinated or not vaccinated,” Dr. Sikora said.
“We’re trying to make sure, to ensure that our facilities are prepared for investigating potential measles patients, but also helping manage them in particular facilities.”
In addition, parents are encouraged to get their children vaccinated, if they aren’t already.
Dr. Sikora said the disease can be deadly.
“The mortality rate in first-world countries can be one to three per thousand,” he said.
Typical measles symptoms include coughing, and rashes on the face and body, but that can take four days to show up.
AHS has set up a website for information on the outbreak.
With files from Breanna Karstens-Smith