Island Health has confirmed two cases of measles and both people, who are residents of Vancouver Island, became infected while travelling abroad in Vietnam.
Both people had received one shot of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination and VIHA’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Richard Stanwick said, while 117 people were screened for measles risk, the number who are at-risk is actually about two dozen.
Stanwick said the disease was contracted in the same area of Vietnam that others in BC have acquired the disease in.
“These are two adults who were affected as a result of travel to Vietnam and, interestingly, likely in the same areas where the individuals in Vancouver acquired measles,” said Stanwick.
Anyone who attended Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Emergency Department between 5 am and 12:30 pm on March 6, between 8:36 and 11:30 pm on March 9, or the outpatient clinic on March 8 between 7 and 10:30 am may have been exposed to the disease.
Stanwick said he was in Manitoba more than 30 years ago and he never anticipated that the public would still need to be warned about measles in this day and age.
“Thirty-five years ago, I was dealing with one hundred cases of measles in Thompson, Manitoba and again, we’re seeing the very same sort of picture, in terms of the presentation,” said Stanwick. “One of the cases ended up with severe encephalitis. I never thought, in fact, 35 years later we’d be doing this again, trying to warn the public that measles is a virus that, if we give it an opportunity, it will cause harm.”
Stanwick said if you’re travelling to foreign countries you need to check on how active measles is there.
The disease is active in the Phillippines and Southeast Asia and if you’re heading there, you need both MMR shots.
Stanwick said these cases are an example of why getting both MMR vaccinations is so important.
Anyone born before 1970 has a natural immunity to the disease and anyone with the two MMR shots also has full immunity.