FHA: Worst measles outbreak in 30 years

Chilliwack: Fraser Health declares measles outbreak over after more than 400 cases reported.

Nearly two months after the first case was reported, Fraser Health announced Monday the measles outbreak had finally been contained.

The outbreak, which originated in East Chilliwack, was the worst Fraser Health has seen in almost 30 years.

In a four week span, from March to April, more than 400 cases were reported; some patients requiring hospitalization.

“We haven’t had this large an outbreak since 1986,” said Dr. Michelle Murti, medical health officer for Fraser Health.

The rapid spread is concerning.

Even though measles has been eliminated in Canada, it’s still common in other countries.

In fact, the recent outbreak, which started in a community notorious for low immunization rates, is suspected to have stemmed from a Chilliwack family visiting the Netherlands, a country that’s been battling a yearlong measles outbreak.

“When we have lower rates of immunization, that does put us at risk of having this type of an outbreak that can spread quite quickly,” said Murti.

“The significance of this outbreak and how large and rapidly spreading it was is a good reminder for people to keep up to date on their immunizations.”

Fraser Health has taken actions to help make it more convenient for families.

The health authority recently started offering evening and weekend times for parents to bring their children in for vaccinations. It’s also researching ways to make booking appointments easier.

As well, Fraser Health is promoting online tools that remind parents when their child is due for an immunization, including ImmunizeBC.ca and Immunize.ca.

ImmunizeBC.ca will send parents free text messages one month and one week before their child is due for immunization.

Immunize.ca allows parents to keep track of their whole family’s immunization records with one click of the app. It also provides information on vaccinations and outbreaks nationally and internationally.

“We do have this constant contact with measles being imported from other places and we do need to maintain that high level of immunization in our population to make sure these types of outbreak don’t happen again,” said Murti.

“These are things we can do to make it more convenient for parents.”

kbartel@theprogress.com

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