Why we must be on guard against measles community outbreak

Alicia Farmer
April 1, 2019

Dr Pink says anyone with measles symptoms or who believes they may have been exposed, can contact their usual general practice 24/7 for additional advice.

"Measles may be the disease, but all too often the real infection is misinformation, mistrust and complacency", UNICEF head Henrietta Fore said this month. Measles starts with a fever, which can be very high. It's followed by a rash that spreads over the body.

Wasn't measles eradicated in the U.S.?

Although the majority of locally born Hong Kong citizens have been vaccinated for measles, there is still a worrisome prospect of a large-scale community outbreak in the territory, given the density and mobility of the population here.

How is measles making a return to the U.S.? Measles begins with travelers from other countries where the disease is more common, and then spreads in the us among susceptible children. Measles is highly contagious.

At least 800 children have died from measles since September in Madagascar, where rampant malnutrition and a historically poor vaccine rate are driving the world's worse current outbreak.

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Emmanuel Bilodeau, the father, told that his son contracted measles when traveling to Vietnam earlier in the year, before bringing it back to Canada.

"We anxious 10 to 12 years ago because there was a lot of debate around the MMR vaccine", Thibodeau told CBC News. Most do not experience any side effects from the shot. The first dose protects children 95 to 97 percent of the time.

But a blood test ordered by Vancouver Children's Hospital has since confirmed his youngest son has measles, and the other two are still waiting for confirmation, Bilodeau said.

To address the pressing issue, the Food and Health Bureau and the Department of Health should stay in close touch with pharmaceutical companies in order to ensure stable and continued supply of measles vaccines.

To help contain Canterbury's measles outbreak a wider group of people are now eligible to receive a second MMR vaccination. It is a good idea to vaccinate previously unvaccinated children who are potentially exposed to measles. It doesn't guarantee that they won't get the disease, however it can lessen the severity if they do.

Canterbury health authorities are in regular contact with Pharmac and the Ministry of Health around supply of the MMR vaccine. There were a lot of concerns about this because of a now discredited publication. Since then, many scientific studies in the US and other countries involving millions of children have reached the same conclusion: The MMR vaccine does not cause autism.

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