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Measles is no joke

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  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 26, 2014 06:00 am

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More cases of measles have been identified in the capital region, a surprise for a population in which the disease has been a rarity for many years.

Thatís because successful and safe vaccination programs in North America have virtually wiped out measles, also known as nine-day measles or rubeola, caused by an extremely contagious virus. However, nutty Hollywood celebrity-driven campaigns attacking vaccination havenít helped the cause to make this disease a thing of the past. Nor have lacklustre or nonexistent efforts in developing countries helped eliminate it.

According to popular health website WebMD, as a result of widespread vaccination, any reported cases of measles discovered in Canada were actually brought in from outside the country, usually from Africa.

Alberta Health Services confirmed this week that measles in Canada is indeed likely being imported from elsewhere. According to AHS, an infected individual was actually a foreign child who was travelling to Edmonton through Vancouver from the Philippine Islands earlier in April. Whatís making matters worse for Albertans is the fact the child passed through an airport, with the potential to spread the disease to any passengers going to any number of far-flung destinations.

AHS is warning those who were passengers or crew on Air Canada flight No. AC248, which flew from Vancouver to Alberta the evening of April 9 that they may have been exposed.

Of course, those who were simply at the Edmonton International Airport from 11:30 p.m. on April 9 to 2 a.m. on April 10 may have been exposed to the virus. Those infected may be showing no symptoms but can still spread the highly contagious virus to others.

Measles can have serious health effects, including diarrhea and ear infections which can lead to permanent deafness or hearing loss, pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain which is as bad as it sounds) or seizures. In rare cases measles can attack the brain or cause death.

If you suspect your child or anyone in your family has measles, do not go to a hospital or clinic. Those infected could spread the disease to others. Instead, AHS advises you to please stay home, avoid contact with others, and call Health Link Alberta (1-866-408-5465).

The best defence against measles is simple vaccination. Those who have been vaccinated against measles are generally considered immune and the program is free of charge. Call the Health Link number above for more information.



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