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Preventing the spread of measles

Due to recent cases of measles in Vancouver, BC Children’s Hospital is providing advice on what to do if you are concerned that your child has been exposed to measles.
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BC Children’s was notified earlier this week that one of the individuals with a confirmed case of measles visited the Emergency Department while they were infectious. Patients and families who may have been exposed to measles in the Emergency Department are being contacted directly by Vancouver Coastal Public Health to consult with them by phone on whether they are showing any symptoms and require follow-up. 

We encourage all parents to ensure their child's vaccination records are up-to-date and that children are immunized on the recommended B.C. schedule. It is especially important to ensure that immunizations are up to date prior to travel. Parents can contact their local Public Health unit to arrange vaccinations.

If you believe you or your child has measles:

  • Stay at home. If you suspect your child has measles, they will need to be assessed by a doctor. 
  • Call your doctor’s office. Tell them that you think your child may have measles before visiting. This will allow your doctor to take precautions to protect other patients as an infected person can spread measles from four days before to four days after the onset of rash.
  • Contact the Public Health Team. If you live in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) area, call 604-675-3900 for advice and to report any illness. If you live outside of VCH area, call HealthLink at 8-1-1.
If you are pregnant:
  • Measles is a serious health risk to pregnant women and their unborn children. Measles can lead to more severe complications of illness in pregnant women, as well as an increased risk for preterm labour and preterm delivery.
  • The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine can only be given postpartum. It is safe to breastfeed after receiving the vaccine and women who are not pregnant are advised to ensure their immunizations record is up-to-date.
We have instructed physicians and staff to be on alert for patients with symptoms of measles arriving at the Emergency Department. Due to the recently confirmed measles cases in Vancouver, we have taken additional steps to pre-screen people arriving at the Emergency Department for symptoms of measles and to reduce exposure to our patients.

Our standard protocol in the Emergency Department involves asking patients at triage about any recent travel and any exposure to communicable diseases, which includes measles. If we do have a suspected case of measles, our protocol is to ask the patient to put on a mask and place the patient in a closed room, then assess and treat them.

When BC Children’s was notified by Infection Control of potential measles exposure, staff worked with Occupational Health and Safety to notify physicians, nurses and staff who may have been exposed. We have confirmed that all physicians, nurses and staff on-shift in the Emergency Department have up-to-date vaccinations. 

In response to recent measles cases in Vancouver, we also held a staff vaccination clinic on Friday, Feb. 15 to give staff an opportunity to update their vaccinations. We plan to offer additional clinics next week for staff.

For the most common measles-related questions, check out HealthLink BC's FAQ.
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