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Measles Outbreak in Fraser East

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March 08, 2014

SURREY- The Chief Medical Health Officer (CMHO) of Fraser Health is warning residents living in Fraser East communities (Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Hope) of a measles outbreak in low immunized areas of the region.

The most recent exposure to this highly contagious virus has occurred in a school in Chilliwack in a community with traditionally low immunization rates.  Two confirmed cases of measles have been reported and Fraser Health is following up on dozens of linked suspected cases.

Public Health staff are contacting the affected families directly to offer immunoglobulin or vaccine in order to reduce the chance of the infection developing. Of particular concern is students and families preparing for Spring Break.  Fraser Health is advising individuals who may have been exposed to the virus to refrain from travelling until they have been cleared by Public Health.

Relatively low immunization rates in some parts of Fraser East have led to several clusters of the virus in previous years; the most recent being in the Fall of 2013.

The most effective protection against the virus is two doses of the vaccine which is free to all those born in or after 1957.  Residents are encouraged to contact their regular health provider to receive the vaccination.

If residents suspect they have been exposed or have developed symptoms, they should see their medical practitioner and notify the medical practitioner’s office before arriving in order to prevent the spread of the disease to others at the clinic.

Update: 12:30pm Monday, March 10

Fraser Health’s Public Health teams are currently conducting investigations into the measles outbreak in Fraser East and instituting control measures.

Releasing the name of the school may jeopardize the collaborative and sensitive nature of this work.  The well-being of our communities is very important to us, and we want to reassure the public that not releasing the name of the school at this time does not pose a risk to the public.

We continue to remind people that the most effective protection against the virus is two doses of the vaccine which is free to all those born in or after 1957.  Residents are encouraged to contact their regular health provider to receive the vaccination.

If residents suspect they have been exposed or have developed symptoms, they should see their medical practitioner and notify the medical practitioner’s office before arriving in order to prevent the spread of the disease to others at the clinic.

We appreciate your cooperation and will continue to keep you informed of any new developments.

Quotes:
Dr. Paul Van Buynder, Chief Medical Health Officer for Fraser Health:
“We are urging individuals who may have been exposed to the virus to contact their local Public Health Unit to be cleared before travelling during Spring Break.  The potential for this virus to spread as a result is very concerning.  This is a timely reminder not to let preventable illnesses stop you from enjoying the things that are important to you.  We are encouraging everyone who has not yet been vaccinated against measles to contact their doctor or health provider to receive the free MMR vaccine.”

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES, PLEASE CONTACT:
Fraser Health Media Pager: 604-450-7881
media@fraserhealth.ca

http://news.fraserhealth.ca

   
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