If you attended Fleetwood Park Secondary school between Tuesday, October 30th and Friday, November 2nd, you may have been exposed to the measles virus – this according to a letter sent home with students and faculty of the high-school this past Wednesday. As a result, Fraser Health is recommending all students and staff review their MMR immunization status. Furthermore, staff and students who were born after the year 1970 and did not receive the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine will not be allowed to return to the school until November 26th. For students and staff that have already had 1 dose of the MMR vaccine, a free immunization clinic will be set up at the school on Thursday, November 8th and Friday, November 9th between the hours of 9 AM and 3 PM.
It’s also important to note that if you haven’t developed any symptoms of the measles, this is common, even after being exposed to the virus, as symptoms typically will not show up until 7 to 21 days after the exposure has occurred. This is known as the incubation period. Following the incubation period, someone with the measles virus may begin to develop non-specific signs and symptoms that will last for 2 to 3 days, including a mild to moderate fever that is accompanied by a persistent dry cough and other cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and sore, irritated and inflamed eyes – also known as conjunctivitis. Following this, you will then begin to develop a rash which will appear as small, slightly raised red spots that give the skin a splotchy appearance. These spots will usually first occur on the face, then spread down the arms and trunk, thighs, legs, and feet. You may also develop tiny white spots in the mouth, and your fever can also increase.
If you do have the measles, remember that it is highly contagious. You can spread the virus to other individuals as many as four days before the rash appears, and for as long as eight days. This is known as the communicable period If you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is recommended that you stay home to avoid infecting others. It’s also recommended that you report your symptoms to Public Health by calling (604) 507-5471. To get a definitive diagnosis of measles, your doctor may order a series of tests including blood tests, a nasal swab, as well as a urinalysis. However, if you need to visit a lab or doctor’s office, make sure you call ahead of time so that appropriate measures can be taken to prevent the spread of the virus as well as ensure you are seen as quickly as possible.
As mentioned, measles is highly contagious and is spread by inhaling infected droplets (usually by an infected individual sneezing, coughing, or even talking.) These droplets can also stay active on surfaces, such as keyboards, desks, and doorknobs for several hours. If you have touched an infected surface and then place your hands or fingers near your mouth, nose or eyes, then you are at risk of developing the measles. Aside from being unvaccinated, other risk factors include international travel, as well as being deficient in vitamin A. while a vitamin A deficiency doesn’t necessarily cause the measles, it can make your symptoms more severe and increase your risk of developing complications, which can include ear infections, bronchitis, laryngitis, pneumonia, encephalitis, as well as pregnancy problems including preterm labour, low birth weight, and even maternal death.