Skip to main content

Alberta Health Services issues measles alert in Calgary

Share

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is warning the public about a lab-confirmed case of measles in the Calgary area, adding that the public may have been exposed.

On Tuesday evening, AHS said an individual with a lab-confirmed case of measles had been in public areas while infectious. CTV News has confirmed this patient is a child.

The agency said the infected child was on Air Canada flight AC206 from Vancouver on Nov. 23.

The flight landed in Calgary at 12:45 p.m. and the patient then spent two and a half hours in the domestic arrivals area of the Calgary International Airport.

The child was then checked into the emergency room at the Alberta Children's Hospital at 4 p.m. on Nov. 24 where they spent five and a half hours in the waiting room before leaving.

AHS says they returned to the hospital on Nov. 27 at 1:15 p.m., and spent an additional three hours in the waiting room.

Health officials say the patient is now being monitored, but everyone who may have been in the above areas during the indicated times should take precautions.

"Anyone who attended these locations at these times are strongly encouraged to review their immunization records and call HealthLink 811 for advice," AHS said in a statement.

"Anyone who attended these locations at these times who either were born after 1970, or have less than two documented doses of measles-containing vaccine, may be at risk for developing measles."

Anyone who exhibits symptoms of measles, which include a fever of 38.3 C or higher, cough, runny nose/and or red eyes and a red blotchy rash that appears between three to seven days after fever, should stay home and call 811 for advice instead of visiting their health care provider.

"Measles is an extremely contagious disease and is spread easily through the air. There is no treatment for measles; however, it can be prevented through immunization," AHS said.

Immunization for measles is offered to Albertans at no cost and is typically first administered to children at 12 months old, with a second dose given to them between four and six years old.

AHS says anyone who believes they may have been exposed to this case of measles may also be able to receive immunizations.

"Exposed people who have received fewer than two doses of measles-containing vaccine, who are pregnant, under one year of age, or have a weakened immune system are encouraged to contact Health Link as they may be eligible for medication to prevent measles."

'IT'S TOTALLY PREVENTABLE': INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT WEIGHS IN

Dr. Daniel Gregson, a research professor at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine in infectious diseases and medical microbiology, says that it's not uncommon to see these type of exposures.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't surprise me," he told CTV News in an interview on Wednesday. "We have episodes of measles exposures every couple of years here in Alberta.

"More commonly in Canada, probably at least yearly, where people come back from travelling and have not immunized and acquire measles and bring it back to this country.

"It's unfortunate because it's totally preventable with immunization."

Measles is highly contagious for those who aren’t fully immunized or who are immunocompromised and the infection can linger in the air for hours.

"Somewhere around 10 to 15 people have become infected from a single case if they're not immune, so it's very infectious and infectious in the air for hours after the person leaves the space," he said.

According to Statistics Canada, 92 per cent of two-year-old children had been vaccinated against measles across the country in 2021.

However, in Alberta, that rate dropped from 91.7 per cent in 2017 to 88.4 per cent in 2021.

Gregson adds that there are groups in Alberta that object to immunization for various reasons.

"Some communities decline having their children immunized fro philosophical reasons or religious reasons," he said.

In addition to vaccine hesitancy, he says the COVID-19 pandemic also caused many people to miss their childhood visits for immunizations.

"There has been that gap which we're trying to catch up on," he said.

"There's also a lot of misinformation on the internet about complications from vaccines which are very rare."

Gregson called the situation "very frustrating."

"Like I said, these childhood vaccines we have were brought in to prevent both acute illness in children and long term complications from those illnesses and it's disappointing to see children at risk in our community."

Further details about Alberta's childhood immunization program can be found online.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

Here's where The Body Shop is closing in Canada

The Body Shop Canada Ltd. is shutting down more than 30 stores across Canada. The renowned beauty brand announced Friday it will start immediately liquidating nearly a third of its 105 stores.

Stay Connected