Measles outbreak spreads to Vancouver-area college campus
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, March 15, 2014 1:47PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 15, 2014 10:45PM EDT
An outbreak of measles in British Columbia's Fraser Valley has spread to a Vancouver-area college campus, located nearly 100 kilometres away, health officials confirmed Saturday.
Fraser Health said in a statement that a measles case reported at the British Columbia Institute of Technology Burnaby campus is related to the outbreak in Chilliwack, B.C.
According to the regional health authority, the student was on the BCIT campus on March 6 and 7.
Officials estimate the student was in contact with 128 other students.
Now, Fraser Health is working with the school to alert others who may have had contact with the student.
According to the agency, students who attended classes in building NE1 at the BCIT Burnaby campus on March 6 or 7 may return to school on March 14 if one of the following conditions is met:
- they have two documented doses of MMR vaccine (the vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella)
- they were born before 1970
- they have had measles in the past
Any students who are showing signs of measles are being asked to isolate themselves at home. And if anyone becomes seriously ill, they should contact their doctor, public health unit, or hospital, Fraser Health said.
Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose, and red and inflamed eyes, followed by a rash three to seven days later.
“Measles is a very contagious disease. Those who aren’t vaccinated can spread the disease quickly," Fraser Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Van Buynder said in the statement. "If you are showing measles-like symptoms, stay home and call your doctor.”
The outbreak first began at the Mount Cheam Christian School in Chilliwack, a community with traditionally low immunization rates. The first two confirmed cases involved two children from the school. Since then, the outbreak has spread into the general community.
So far, one child has been admitted to hospital and there are up to 100 suspected cases among children, Fraser Health said.
"Certainly there's now the potential that we will start to see cases broadly across the lower mainland," Van Buynder told CTV Vancouver on Saturday.
Next week there will be special clinics in Chilliwack and the nearby community of Agassiz for people to get vaccinated. Fraser Health says vaccination continues to be the best form of protection against measles.