Measles, a unsafe disease that was all but wiped out almost two decades ago due to widespread vaccinations, is making a comeback worldwide, including in North Carolina.
The good news, though, is that there's no shortage of supply across the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region.
The importance of herd immunity is proved by data emerging from Clark County, Washington, where there are 62 confirmed cases of measles since January 1 and only 78 percent of school-age children have had both recommended doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The latest involve dozens of new cases in NY and in Clark County, Washington, across the Columbia River from Portland.
Measles usually strikes children, but adults can also contract the disease.
"The worst outcome of measles in Canada would be [the] hospitalization of patients with pneumonia or [another] secondary bacterial infection", Ward said.
Saskatchewan now does not have a confirmed measles case, and has not had one since 2014 when there was 16 reported cases. Even though medical science has conclusively proven that vaccinations are overwhelmingly safe, the rate of children who are receiving optional vaccinations continues to decrease.
Of the 13 confirmed cases of measles in B.C., two were reported on Sunday. "That's the best way to combat the disease". It is preventable with a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine given in two doses.
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Symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. The causative virus is known as measles virus.
"We want to consider all of those options because I think in what is a serious outbreak there is, with the amount of public attention there, it's natural where there are cases in B.C. now where there is an opportunity to use that momentum to get more people immunized now", he said.
The death toll on measles cases has also risen to one hundred forty-six.
The highly infectious and contagious illness is contracted when a person makes contact with the measles virus. Outbreaks can occur when vaccination rates are low enough to let the disease spread from person to person. If vaccine refusal is left unchecked, more people will be susceptible.
In the past decade, the Philippines had seen a decline in the first dose of measles vaccine, from above 80 percent in 2008 to below 70 percent in 2017. This vaccination comes with the combination of other vaccines also. The fourth case is pending genotyping results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"It's extremely important that people understand that measles vaccine, like all the vaccines that we have, undergo rigorous ongoing scientific safety evaluations", says Professor Katherine O'Brien from the Department of International Health and Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
College and university students, healthcare personnel and worldwide travelers are at increased risk for measles, and should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine to ensure adequate protection, the CDC recommends.