The chief provincial public health officer confirmed today that two cases of measles have been reported in Manitoba.
The individuals live in the area of the Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority and are recovering at home. The first case, a child under the age of one, is believed to have contracted the virus out of the country while the second case was identified as a close contact. All contacts have been identified and have been or will soon be contacted by public health officials.
Where appropriate, people will be offered immunization and asked to restrict their contact with others to reduce the possible spread of measles. Public health officials will continue to monitor the situation in Manitoba and provide updated information as necessary.
Symptoms of measles generally appear seven to 21 days after exposure. Initial symptoms may include fever, runny nose, drowsiness, irritability and red eyes. Small white spots may also develop on the inside of the mouth or throat.
Several days after the initial symptoms, a red blotchy rash appears on the face and progresses down the body. Measles can lead to complications including ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia (lung infection) and encephalitis (brain inflammation).
Measles is a highly infectious, communicable disease that is spread through droplets in the air formed when coughing or sneezing. An infected person can spread the virus from four days before the rash appears to four days after. The disease tends to be more severe in infants and young children and can be life-threatening.
If visiting a physician or health-care provider, it is best to call ahead and make an appointment so health-care staff can take steps to reduce the exposure of other people to the virus.
Immunization is the only means of protecting yourself and your family. Contact an immunization provider such as a physician, nurse practitioner or local public health office to make sure you and your family are up to date.
In Manitoba, a two-dose measles vaccine program was introduced in 1996. Vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (MMR or MMRV) are provided for children who are at least one year of age and again when aged four to six.
To reduce the spread of measles, people can:
• ensure immunizations are up to date,
• wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available,
• avoid sharing drinking glasses or eating utensils,
• cover coughs and sneezes with the forearm or a tissue, and
• stay home when sick.
For information on the measles, visit www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/diseases/measles.html.