Nearly a week after a single case of measles was confirmed in the Interior Health region, there's been no sign of the infection spreading.
The patient was located in 100 Mile House and Interior Health issued a release warning of locations the person had visited while they were possibly contagious.
"Measles is one of the most infectious diseases because it truly is airborne and the virus can remain suspended in the air for a few hours after someone has been in the room," says Dr. Karin Goodison, a medical officer with Interior Health. "That's why we send out the alert, we wouldn't do this with other illnesses."
"If I were sitting here in my office by myself and I had measles and I left and someone came in within a half an hour of me being here, they could get exposed even though they haven't even seen me."
The patient is now past the point where they would be considered contagious, but Goodison says Interior Health is still on alert, as it can take up to 21 days for symptoms to present. Measles patients are typically contagious for four days before the rash presents and four days after.
While the health authority hasn't confirmed any other cases, the warning has prompted an increase in calls and doctor visits in the region.
"We get very busy when there's a single measles case because a) people want to get immunized, which is great, we want to encourage that, and b) people are worried their symptoms may be measles because it's top of mind," Goodison tells KamloopsMatters. "So we do get more people getting investigated for measles than we would typically have."
As of March 7, Goodison says the immunization rates in the Thompson-Cariboo-Shuswap region is 87 per cent for the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) first dose in two-year-olds and 73 per cent for the second MMR dose in seven-year-olds.
This particular patient contracted the disease from travelling outside of B.C., but the outbreak in the Lower Mainland is still a source of concern for Interior Health.
"The other thing that we have ongoing is the continuous travel of people in Interior Health to other areas of the province or other areas of the world where there are outbreaks ongoing, so we are always on high alert for further measles cases," says Goodison. "The B.C. outbreak in the Vancouver area is ongoing and we are continuing to be prepared to have a high index of suspicion for measles cases, given that outbreak is very close to here and a lot of people are travelling to the Lower Mainland."
Anyone who is concerned about exposure to measles should watch for symptoms, which include fever, cough, runny nose, and red and inflamed eyes followed by a rash, which starts first on the face and neck, spreads to the chest, arms and legs, and lasts for at least three days.
If you think you have been exposed to measles and have the symptoms, call ahead to the doctor’s office or the hospital to allow the office or hospital to make a plan to prevent other people from potential exposure.