As the number of measles cases continues to grow across Canada, things have been quiet recently on the Central Alberta front.
There have been no new cases reported since the end of February, said Alberta Health Services.
There was a total of three cases in the region this year, confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
“We linked the cases to one shopping mall, Bower. We’re not 100 per cent sure they were all there at same time but it appears they could have been,” Dr. Digby Horne, Central Zone medical officer of health, said on Wednesday.
“We suspect that there may have been an index case who remains unknown to us who could have possibly infected all three.”
Horne said they do not anticipate any future cases stemming from the first three.
There were also four cases confirmed in Calgary around the same time.
The threat of more Central Albertans contracting the disease is omnipresent, said Horne.
“We’re on the lookout for additional cases because of the number of other cases in Canada and in Europe, the Philippines as well as parts of Africa,” Horne said. “Someone could get off a plane tonight and transmit measles.”
British Columbia’s Fraser Valley had 288 cases as of March 24, along with other smaller outbreaks in Saskatchewan and Ontario.
Last fall, there was an outbreak in Southern Alberta with 42 people affected. That outbreak was declared over by early January.
Measles is relatively rare in Canada thanks to high immunization rates across the country, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported. “However, Canada will continue to see measles cases related to travel to countries where measles is endemic or there are large outbreaks, such as the Philippines and the Netherlands,” the agency stated last week.
Horne said the best way to protect yourself from measles is to be immunized.
A two-dose vaccine is recommended to everyone born in 1970 or after. People born before then are considered to likely be immune. It’s offered free of charge through Alberta’s immunization program.
Measles is extremely contagious and spread through the air. It can lead to pneumonia and, in rare cases, even death.
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.