Fraser Health has expanded the locations of a possible measles exposure on the first day of school this week at Maple Ridge secondary, to a BC Ferry that sailed from Tsawwassen to Mayne Island, and a pub on Saturna Island.
The agency is warning passengers who were on the Aug. 31, 7 p.m. BC Ferry sailing from Tswawassen to Mayne Island that there was a confirmed case of measles on board. “The case was infectious on the voyage, potentially exposing other passengers to measles,” Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Ingrid Tyler said in a release.
“If you travelled on this ferry during this time period, check your immunization status. You are most at risk of measles infection if you are completely unvaccinated against measles.”
That same person is also thought to have visited the Saturna Lighthouse Pub on Saturna Island on Monday, Sept. 3, between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and then attended Maple Ridge secondary on Tuesday, Sept. 4.
Tyler later added there have been no other reports of measles.
Fraser Health sent letters to Maple Ridge secondary parents on Thursday about the potential exposure.
Students and staff at the school have been told to check their immunization records and were offered measles-mumps-rubella immunization shots at a free clinic at the school all day, Friday.
In case people missed that, Fraser Health is offering another MMR immunization clinic this Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Maple Ridge Health Unit at 22470 Dewdney Trunk Rd., from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that is spread through the air.
“If you’re exposed, and not protected, your chances of contracting the disease are very high,” Tyler said Friday.
Anyone who thinks they may have caught measles should contact a doctor so they can get treatment and authorities can contact other people they may have encountered.
Symptoms include fever, rash, red eyes, cough and runny nose but can worsen to include pneumonia, brain inflammation and even death. “So it’s a serious condition,” Tyler said.
The rash can start centrally on the face and spreads to the limbs and lasts at least three days.
The incubation period (time to develop symptoms after being exposed) for measles is about 10 days but can range from seven to 21 days.
Tyler said that Fraser Health follows the same procedure any time there’s a report of a public exposure to measles. Reports of measles is increasing around in the U.S. and Europe, she added.
She added that in order to have herd immunity to minimize chances of catching measles, more than 95 per cent of the population must have been immunized by the MMR vaccine.
In the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows area, about 80 per cent of the population has been immunized with the MMR vaccine. That percentage has been steady for the past five years and is three per cent higher than that for the Fraser Health region.
Fraser Health adds in the Sept. 6 letter to Maple Ridge secondary, that staff and students born after Jan. 1, 1970, who haven’t had any doses of the MMR vaccine, have to get immunized by Sept. 10 – or they won’t be allowed back at the school until Sept. 26.
Students and staff who’ve had at least one dose of the MMR vaccine are recommended to get a second MMR vaccine in order to be protected.
People also can get the MMR vaccine from their doctor, but they have to provide a record of that to the school by Sept. 10.
Fraser Health added that most people are protected by either having the MMR vaccine, or by having had measles in the past.
Tyler urged people who may have symptoms, to call before they go to a clinic or doctor’s office, so they don’t infect more people.
“If you develop any of the symptoms and have a fever, call your doctor and inform them that you may have been exposed to measles. They will arrange to see you in a manner that avoids infecting other patients in the waiting room.”
People can also get re-vaccinated if they’ve lost their records.