More measles cases found

Measles continues its spread in Alberta, but there have been no new cases in Central Alberta for more than a month.

Measles continues its spread in Alberta, but there have been no new cases in Central Alberta for more than a month.

Two more cases of infants contracting the virus were announced in Edmonton on Tuesday bringing the provincial total for 2014 to 30.

The number of cases in Alberta Health Services’ Central Zone — stretching from Sundre and Drayton Valley to Lloydminster and Drumheller — has remained steady at seven since the last case was announced on April 24.

Five days later an “outbreak” was declared for the Central, Edmonton and Calgary zones, a move that led to AHS making the measles vaccine available to infants under the age of one who would otherwise be susceptible.

The health authority also encouraged others to get fully vaccinated, and it organized six drop-in clinics to be held in Red Deer.

Since the outbreak was declared, over 38,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered across the province, including 4,557 in the Central Zone.

Twenty-two per cent of those local shots have been given to toddlers between the ages of six and 11 months.

Outbreak declarations typically remain in effect for six weeks following the last possible exposure — April 21 for the Central Zone — because symptoms can be slow to develop.

After the outbreak is deemed over, people will still be able to get the vaccine free at public health clinics, but immunizations will no longer be made available for those under the age of one. Children typically receive their first measles shot at 12 months.

Central Zone medical officer of health Dr. Ifeoma Achebe said officials will consider the situations in the rest of the province before deciding to declare the local outbreak over.

There have now been 13 confirmed cases in the Edmonton zone, and in one of the most recent cases, exposures to the virus were possible at the high-traffic West Edmonton Mall and when the afflicted child travelled to Grande Prairie.

mfish@bprda.wpengine.com

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