Alberta Health Services issued a public alert yesterday after a passenger who flew from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Edmonton International Airport (EIA) back on August 15th was determined to have been infected with measles.
Media reports indicate that the patient was an Edmontonian – believed to be unvaccinated - who had recently returned from a trip to Asia.
The plane carried roughly 100 passengers, and others may have been exposed at the airport terminals. Alberta Health Services is asking anyone who may have been in on those flights to contact them immediately.
August 23, 2011
EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services has confirmed a case of measles in the Edmonton area and is following up with individuals who may have been in close contact with the ill person. The case of measles occurred in an Albertan who recently travelled outside Canada.
The following groups may have been exposed to the ill person and are asked to contact Health Link Alberta as soon as possible:
- Any passengers on Air Canada flight AC244 on Monday, August 15, 2011, which departed Vancouver International Airport (YVR) at 4:30 p.m. and arrived at Edmonton International Airport (EIA) at 6:53 p.m.
- Anyone in the Edmonton International Airport Air Canada baggage claim area on Monday, August 15, 2011, from 7 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
Measles is an extremely contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. The rash typically begins behind the ears and on the face, spreading down to the body, and finally to the arms and legs.
About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia requiring hospitalization. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die. Individuals who have not already had measles disease and have not been immunized against measles are at highest risk for developing the disease.
Earlier this year I wrote about the recent rise of measles cases across much of Europe (see Measles: Forgotten, But Not Gone), with details gleaned from the WHO’s WER (Weekly Epidemiological Record), and including a referral to an excellent 5-part series on measles by Ian York.
The WER report (Measles outbreaks in Europe) detailed an outbreak, which – as of April 18th – had infected more than 6,500 people in 33 nations.
This spring a significant number of measles cases have been imported into the United States from this outbreak, and with the summer travel season upon us, the potential for seeing more cases is great.
For this reason, the CDC released a HAN Advisory on measles last June.
This is an official
CDC HEALTH ADVISORY
Distributed via Health Alert Network
June 22, 2011, 16 :00 EST (04:00 PM EST)
During the 1950s – before the introduction of the measles vaccine – measles infected roughly 4 million Americans, hospitalized nearly 50,000, and contributed to the deaths of several hundred every year.
The chart below (source: CDC) shows the remarkable effectiveness of the vaccination campaign.
While many parents today think of measles as a relatively benign childhood illness, it actually produced significant morbidity and mortality with respiratory, ocular, and neurological complications - sometimes resulting in death.
In developing countries, the incidence – and mortality rate – of measles remains high. These statistics from the World Health Organization:
Fact sheet N°286
- Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
- In 2008, there were 164 000 measles deaths globally – nearly 450 deaths every day or 18 deaths every hour.
- More than 95% of measles deaths occur in low-income countries with weak health infrastructures.
- Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2008 worldwide.
- In 2008, about 83% of the world's children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.