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Saskatchewan health issues public advisory due to measles

An unimmunized infant, traveling with family from the Philippines to Regina, Saskatchewan, was confirmed positive for the viral disease, measles, prompting provincial health authorities to issue a public advisory Jan. 17.

Airline travel increases the spread of infectious diseases
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The infant and family traveled from the Philippines, where there is currently a measles outbreak, to Vancouver on Jan.2.

Vancouver health officials interviewed potentially exposed individuals and said the risk of infection was deemed “very low,” as they are likely immune.

The Canadian news source, Global News reports that the family went through the Vancouver International Airport and spent at least one night in a Vancouver hotel.

They then traveled to Calgary and Regina on January 7.

Saskatchewan health officials say that people on the following flights may have been exposed to measles:

  • Thursday, January 2, 2014: Philippine Airlines PR116 - Manila to Vancouver (Arrived 16:30)
  • Tuesday, January 7, 2014:West Jet 544 - Vancouver to Calgary (Departed 08:00, Arrived 10:25) and WestJet 314 - Calgary to Regina (Departed 12:05, Arrived 14:30)

“Measles cases are quite uncommon in Saskatchewan, but this situation underscores the importance of vaccinations,” Deputy Chief Medical Health Officer Denise Werker said. “The risk of exposure to highly contagious diseases can be particularly high during busy travel seasons, for people traveling within Canada as well as to and from countries experiencing measles outbreaks.”

It is reported that the infected child is being treated and recovering.

Measles or rubeola, is an acute highly communicable viral disease that is characterized by Koplik spots in the cheek or tongue very early in the disease. A couple of days later a red blotchy rash appears first on the face, and then spreads, lasting 4-7 days.

Other symptoms include fever, cough and red watery eyes. The patient may be contagious from four days prior to the rash appearance to four days after rash appearance.

The disease is more severe in infants and adults. Complications from measles which is reported in up to 20% of people infected include; seizures, pneumonia, deafness and encephalitis.

Vaccination is the best prevention against measles. Immunize BC offers the following information concerning the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine:

It's free and recommended for children at 12 months and between 4-6 years of age as part of their other childhood immunizations.

The MMR vaccine is also free and recommended for adults who have never had measles, mumps or rubella or received the vaccine.

  • The measles vaccine is combined with the mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR vaccine), so a person can receive protection from several diseases with one shot.
  • It's free for anyone who does not have a record of receiving two doses and was born after 1956
  • The MMR vaccine is effective in preventing disease caused by these viruses in up to 95 percent of recipients after one dose. After two doses, it is 99% protective. The vaccine is very safe, and far safer than getting measles, mumps or rubella.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page and the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show page.

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