Two more measles cases confirmed in Alberta; officials warn more may be infected
Published Thursday, April 3, 2014 8:52AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 3, 2014 3:06PM EDT
Alberta health authorities say that people who visited two Calgary restaurants late in March may have been infected with measles -- a warning that comes after doctors confirmed Wednesday morning they had discovered two new cases of the virus.
Dr. Judy MacDonald, Calgary’s medical officer of health, said later on Wednesday that anyone who visited the National pub’s Westhills location on March 24 or 25 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. should monitor themselves for measles. People who visited the Cibo restaurant on 17th Ave between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. on March 29 and 30 may have been exposed to the virus as well.
“When a case of measles is reported to us, we follow up with that individual to find out where they might have been when they were infectious. That can cover a lot of territory,” MacDonald said at a news conference. “And with these two cases, these public places where they were working were potential exposure sites.”
MacDonald said anyone who is showing signs of measles should stay at home and contact Health Link Alberta. The toll free number is 1-866-408 5465.
Measles is highly contagious and spreads easily through the air.
The virus can cause a very high fever, breathing problems, and a rash that spreads over the entire body. Most people eventually recover, but approximately one in 10 children can also develop ear infections, and up to one in 20 will get pneumonia.
In severe cases, measles may cause swelling of the brain that can lead to permanent brain damage. MacDonald says it can sometimes take between one and three weeks for people to start showing symptoms.
Alberta Health Services officials said Wednesday that the two new cases are connected, but they are not travel-related.
One of the cases involves a Calgary high school student who’s infected with the virus, which has prompted school officials to warn students and parents to watch for flu-like symptoms, which could be an early indicator of the measles.
Students at Western Canada High School told CTV Calgary that they were immediately offered the vaccination if they don’t already have their measles shots.
Health officials say students who are not vaccinated, or who have recently received their vaccination, should stay home for at least two weeks until the risk of infection at the school is over.
The two cases are the fifth and sixth in Calgary this year, and the latest in a string of outbreaks reported in western Canada, the Prairies and Ontario.
In British Columbia's eastern Fraser Valley, officials say an outbreak of 320 confirmed cases has been largely contained, and the spread of the virus into other communities has been limited.
Saskatchewan's public health officials have confirmed 11 measles cases since the beginning of the year. Authorities issued a statement in mid-March, declaring that outbreak was over.
Two cases of measles infection were confirmed in Manitoba on March 25. In Ontario, as of March 31, 11 measles cases have been confirmed in the province.
With files from CTV Calgary