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Officials confirm measles in rural Manitoban

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A rural man in his 40s has been hospitalized with measles, sparking a provincial health alert.

The province said the man lives in the area covered by the Interlake-Eastern Health Authority.

Provincial officials provided a list of public places the man visited while he was believed to have been contagious.

Those include:

  • the Manitoba Winter Games badminton tournament in Winkler March 7-8,
  • the 204 Volleyball and Ice Time Sports 14-and-under tournament Saturday, March 8 at Monroe and John Henderson junior high schools in Winnipeg,
  • the University of Manitoba Bison volleyball tournament in Winnipeg Sunday, March 9,
  • the Victoria General Hospital emergency department in Winnipeg Sunday, March 9 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and
  • the Selkirk General Hospital emergency department in Selkirk Monday, March 10 at 7 p.m..

The province said people who attended these events or locations, who think they might have measles or have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with measles, should phone their health-care provider or phone Health Links-Info Santé at 788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257 (toll-free) for more information.

Measles is spread through droplets in the air formed when an infected person coughs or sneezes. An infected person can spread the virus 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.

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).

Provincial public health officials are working with the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Southern Health-Santé Sud to investigate the case and identify contacts.

Where appropriate, people will be offered immunization and asked to restrict their contact with others to reduce the possible spread of measles. Public health officials will continue to monitor the situation in Manitoba and will provide updated information as necessary.

If visiting a physician or health-care provider, it is best to call ahead and make an appointment so health-care staff can take steps to reduce the exposure of other people to the virus, the province said in a release.

The government said immunization is the only means of protecting yourself and your family. Contact an immunization provider such as a physician, nurse practitioner or local public health office to make sure you and your family are up to date.

In Canada, measles activity is currently being reported by British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, mostly related to ongoing outbreaks in the Philippines and the Netherlands.

In Manitoba, a two-dose measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine program was introduced in 1996. Vaccines 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:

  • ensure immunizations are up to date,
  • wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available,
  • avoid sharing drinking glasses or eating utensils,
  • cover coughs and sneezes with the forearm or a tissue, and
  • stay home when sick.

For information on the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine see below or  visit www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/factsheets/mmr.pdf.

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