Alberta Health Services is warning the public of possible exposure to measles after a Central Alberta person contracted the virus and two probable cases have been identified.
AHS is asking individuals who were at several locations over one week earlier this month — in Red Deer, Stettler and Camrose— and who have not been vaccinated against the disease to watch for symptoms.
Dr. Digby Horne, Central Zone medical officer of health, said on Wednesday that there is no cure for measles but there is a vaccine (two doses) recommended to everyone born in 1970 or later. People born before then are considered to likely be immune. Measles is extremely contagious and spread through the air.
“Occasionally people who have had two doses could become infected but usually they would have less severe disease. But the highest risk is for people who have not received any doses or one dose of the vaccine,” said Horne.
Horne said measles is not common in Alberta but there were cases in Southern Alberta before Christmas and most recently in Calgary. He said it came from the Philippines.
Horne said they are not aware of where the three people in Central Alberta contracted the disease.
Two cases have not been confirmed as measles at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg but Horne said they are pretty sure they will be confirmed.
“There’s no one in serious condition that we are aware of currently,” said Horne.
He noted that vaccine will not protect those who may have already been exposed to measles.
“You can get vaccine after exposure but it has to be done within 72 hours and we’re beyond that time frame right now,” said Horne. “If they wanted to get immunized, it may prevent against future exposures.”
Those with symptoms are asked to stay home initially and contact Health Link Alberta (1-866-408-5465) before visiting any health-care facility or to check on your immunization record. Horne said staff at Health Link Alberta will be able to assess the situation.
Symptoms include: a fever of 38.3C or higher, a cough, runny nose and/or red eyes and a red blotchy rash that appears three to seven days after the fever starts, and sensitive eyes.
Measles can cause certain complications in people under the age of five or over 20 and can lead to miscarriage, premature babies, pneumonia and one in 1,000 can develop inflammation of the brain and encephalitis.
Individuals who were at CrossRoads Church, Red Deer City Hall, the Red Deer south Walmart (at 2010 50th Ave.), Staples, Scott’s Parables, Costco and Red Deer Key Hole on Feb. 3 may be at risk. No specific time frame was provided.
Individuals who were at the Bower Place Shopping Centre from Feb. 3 to Feb. 7 between 8:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. are also at risk for exposure.
In Stettler, individuals who were at Walmart and Sobeys on Feb. 2 are at risk.
In Camrose, people who were at the Tim Hortons, Subway and the Camrose Community Field House on Feb. 1 are at risk.