Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Homegrown measles pop up

Normally brought into province by travellers

  • Print

Measles in Manitoba have always arrived from somewhere else, but that is changing.

Manitoba has reported four cases of measles this winter, with two cases in recent days.

The first two cases this winter were in adults who didn't go anywhere before they fell ill, said Dr. Michael Routledge, Manitoba's chief provincial medical officer. One case was reported in the Interlake, a second in southern Manitoba and two others in Winnipeg. "Most of the cases we've had over the years have been travel-related. But the fact they both picked up without travel is new," said Routledge.

Three of the four Manitoba cases involved adults, two of them aged between 40 and 49 and one aged between 20 and 29. Up to now, measles has been almost exclusively a childhood illness in Canada.

Not since 1992 has there been more than a single Manitoba case in any given year, but because the numbers are small, public-health doctors are reluctant to read much into them, except for one important factor.

"That tells me we've got measles circulating in Manitoba. That's what it tells us," Routledge said.

Government and privately sponsored refugees aren't a factor, so far.

Winnipeg physician Michael Dillon, a member of Canadian Doctors for Refugee Health Care, said since vaccines fall under the province's public-health umbrella, refugees are covered. That means federal cuts to extended health-care benefits to refugees don't matter when it comes to measles.

This winter's measles outbreak has raised questions about the need for a national vaccine registry in Canada.

"The bottom line is that people who are moving around for whatever reason, whether it's within Canada, people born in Canada or whether it's people who were born somewhere else and came to Canada, just having to move around means that things like immunization just get missed," said Routledge.

A national registry would identify pockets of lower vaccine rates among immigrants and travellers to areas such as the Netherlands and the Philippines.

The two locations are hot spots for measles identified by public health officials this winter.

A national registry would also offer a database for public health officers across Canada to spot emerging hot zones here.

With no national vaccine registry, the role for the Public Health Agency of Canada is now purely consultative, Health Canada noted this week.

It's a simple matter of jurisdiction, a Public Health Agency of Canada spokeswoman said by email.

"The delivery of immunization programs and the implementation of immunization registries fall under provincial/territorial jurisdiction," the spokeswoman said.

Ever since the SARS outbreak in Toronto in 2003, however, the issue of finding a national way to track the spread and control of infectious disease has been under discussion. So far, no one has reached any firm conclusions.

"There have been other groups that have looked at the question of a national immunization registry. I wouldn't say there are any firm recommendations about that, but some groups have proposed we should have one, for the obvious reason, that everybody would agree about," Routledge said.

In the absence of any national system, Routledge said provincial public health organizations have put together a tracking system of their own, called Panorama.

It's patchwork at best but, in time, it could form a national registry.

"Panorama is this public health information system that has been proposed for a number of years nationally. A number of provinces are starting to use it, not all of them," Routledge said.

"And we're just in the early stages of the Panorama system, just starting to try it out, actually."

Panorama is designed as an integrated electronic public health record that would improve and support management of communicable diseases, outbreaks, immunization and inventory of medical supplies for every province that adopts it.

It will replace the current immunization system in this province, called the Manitoba Immunization Monitoring System and related databases.

MIMS relies on doctors' billings and records from public health nurses; from it the province can report immunization rates of more than 80 per cent, among the best in Canada, Routledge said.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 9, 2014 A4

History

Updated on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 10:38 AM CDT: Corrects attribution to Public Health Agency of Canada

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - Take It Easy

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A Canada goose makes takes flight on Wilkes Ave Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 Day goose a day challenge- Day 09- May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will higher pork prices change your grocery-shopping habits?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google