Health region urging residents to vaccinate against measles

Justin
Justin Crann
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Two cases confirmed in Sask. since new year

Though Five Hills Health Region (FHHR) hasn't had a case of measles yet in 2014, authorities remain vigilant.

Dr. Mark Vooght

"We're always on the lookout for, and potentially concerned about, any actual measles cases here (in FHHR)," said Dr. Mark Vooght, chief medical officer for the region. "We have very few cases in the province, but there have been cases in the Regina area and another health region in the past few weeks."

In early January, an infant who had not been immunized was traveling with family to Regina from the Philippines, with stops in Vancouver and Calgary. The infant had contracted measles, posing concerns for all who had been on the same flights.

That was the second known case of the virus in the province since the new year. In both cases, the infected patient had travelled to the Philippines.

According to Vooght, there was a patient in the FHHR who had come into contact with measles, but was not infected.

Contracting measles and other infectious diseases while traveling is not unheard of, which is why the health region advises people planning to travel to get themselves vaccinated.

"Cases (of infection) are often related to travel, or to contact with people who have been travelling," said Vooght. "Usually in developing countries, measles is still circulating. But even in North America we have had outbreaks in the past."

The problem, he added, is that "there are clusters of people who are not immunized against measles, or who are incompletely immunized," around the globe.

In Five Hills, "there's no big concern about (measles) right now … (but) there's always potential that we could have cases," said Vooght. "In general, people need to get themselves vaccinated. 

"Especially children, because we know that students in schools are always at risk if they haven't gotten themselves immunized." 

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Geographic location: Regina, Philippines, Sask. Vancouver Calgary North America

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