With two confirmed cases of the measles, the chief provincial public health officer is reminding Manitobans that immunization is the only way to protect you and your family from the highly infectious, communicable disease.
An infected person can spread the virus when coughing or sneezing 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.
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.
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).
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:
For information on the measles, visit www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/diseases/measles.html.