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First measles case confirmed in Nanaimo

The first case of the measles has been confirmed for the Nanaimo area.

Island Health has confirmed a single case of the measles in the Nanaimo area – the first since 2010. It has health officials urging people to make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

The announcement comes on the heels of a measles outbreak on the mainland, where the Fraser Valley alone has seen 228 cases.

Medical health officer Dr. Paul Hasselback says there is a significant global increase in measles activity, from the Philippines to countries in the Pacific Rim. Fraser Valley is a “specific community situation” and while no link has been confirmed with the Nanaimo case, Hasselback says measles have become a significant issue for people travelling just about anywhere.

Island Health has said the person attends an educational setting, but has not released any further information. Those exposed to the individual have been identified and contacted.

“We now know we are as susceptible to measles as anybody else and even if we don’t see additional cases related to this case we might see other cases,” Hasselback said. “We have to be prepared and the best way to be prepared is to ensure immunizations are up to date.”

The health authority did not have immunization numbers for the Nanaimo area, but said anywhere from four to five per cent of people choose not to get vaccinations.

Measles are contagious with symptoms that include a fever, cough, red and inflamed eyes and a rash.

In severe cases, symptoms can lead to seizures, deafness and brain damage. The measles vaccine is free to people born after 1970.

Parents of children that need immunizations are being told to contact the Nanaimo Health Unit at 250-755-3342.

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