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Vaccination prevents spread of measles

The Ministry of Health is strongly encouraging Saskatchewan residents to ensure their measles immunizations are up-to-date.

There are currently no confirmed cases of measles in Saskatchewan; however, vaccinations are key to staying healthy and preventing the spread of the disease.

“Because measles is a serious, infectious illness, we are urging all residents to ensure that their immunization and their children’s immunizations are up-to-date,” Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said. “We are aware of measles cases in Canada and the U.S., and we are monitoring the situation here closely.  Vaccines are safe and have saved more lives in Canada in the last 60 years than any other medical intervention.”

The measles vaccination is routinely given as MMRV vaccination to all children at 12 and 18 months of age in Saskatchewan. All children in Saskatchewan starting school should have received two doses of a measles containing vaccine – MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella).

People born in 1970 or later are also eligible for MMR if they have not received two doses of a measles vaccine in the past. Individuals travelling with infants six-11 months of age outside of North America and the Caribbean should contact their local public health office to inquire if they need a vaccination against measles. Regardless of travel plans, all Saskatchewan residents age one year and older should ensure they are up-to-date on their measles vaccinations.

Measles cases are rare in Canada, but do occur typically as a result of international travel. Currently there are measles cases reported in British Columbia and in the United States. The last reported case of measles in Saskatchewan was in 2014.

Measles is a viral infection that is airborne and can spread easily from person to person, even without direct contact.

People who have contracted measles usually have the following symptoms:

• fever (38.3 C or greater);

• cough;

• spots in the mouth appearing 1-2 days before the rash;

• a red blotchy rash appearing on days 3-5 and usually lasting for 4-7 days;

• runny nose; and

• redness of the eyes and inner eyelids and/or light sensitivity.

Symptoms usually occur within eight to 12 days after exposure, but this timeframe can range from seven to 21 days post-exposure.  Measles is highly contagious from about four days before the appearance of the rash until about four days after.

If a person develops the symptoms listed above, they should call ahead before going to see their physician to ensure they are seen in a manner that minimizes exposure to others in the waiting area.

For more information on immunizations, residents can contact their local public health office.

Information on measles and immunizations is also available through the HealthLine at 811 and on the Ministry of Health website at www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/health/diseases-and-conditions/measles.

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