Alberta Health Services has confirmed five cases of measles in the Calgary and Airdrie area and is advising of potential exposures.
One case involved individuals who were at Huntington Superstore on May 3 between 12:45 and 3 p.m. or CrossIron Mills Mall on May 3 between 1:45 and 7 p.m. may have been exposed to the confirmed case of measles.
Those who have not already had measles or have not been vaccinated against measles may be at risk for developing the disease, Alberta Health Services warns.
Alberta Health Services is making contact with people who might have been in close contact with individuals infected with the highly contagious disease.
“We are asking all potentially exposed individuals to monitor their health for symptoms of measles disease, and if symptoms develop, they are requested to contact HealthLink Alberta immediately and avoid all contact with others,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, AHS Medical Officer of Health (Central Zone).
“These individuals must continue to monitor for symptoms of measles, up to May 21, 2010.”
Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose or red eyes, and a red blotchy rash that appears three to seven days after fever starts. The rash typically begins behind the ears and on the face, spreading down to the body, and finally to the arms and legs.
There is no cure for measles, but it can be prevented with vaccination.
“This Calgary case, as well as the ongoing measles outbreak in British Columbia, are reminders of the importance of vaccination,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, AHS Medical Officer of Health.
“We need to be proactive to prevent further spread and we strongly encourage parents to ensure their children are up to date with all immunizations.”
The MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, is part of the routine Childhood Immunization Program in Alberta.
Children in Alberta typically receive their first dose of MMR vaccine at 12 months of age and their second dose between the ages of four and six. Both doses are required to be fully protected.
“Unfortunately, there are pockets of the province where Alberta reports low vaccination rates, and unvaccinated individuals in these areas are at increased risk for certain diseases, including measles,” said Predy.
Measles is relatively rare in Alberta. From 2005 to 2009, eight cases were discovered.