News / Vancouver

New measles case diagnosed from April 4 flight from China to Vancouver

For the second time in a month, health officials have issued a warning about a case of measles on a flight from China.

Dr. Reka Gustafson, a Vancouver Coastal Health medical health officer, said Wednesday that the latest measles case was aboard a flight from China that arrived in Vancouver at 12:15 pm on Saturday April 4.

She advised that anyone on the flight to get vaccinated for measles.

Passengers on the flight should watch for these symptoms until April 25: fever, cough, runny nose, pink eye and a red rash.

Any passenger who develops symptoms should contact a doctor because measles is highly infectious, Gustafson said.

The incubation period is seven to 20 days after exposure to measles, she said, but the average is two weeks, and a person with measles can infect an average of 15 to 18 others.

The latest person with measles was also on the flight to China from Vancouver on March 21.

"The individual was on both flights," Gustafson said.

She could not say whether the latest case of measles involved an airline employee.

“It's a bit unusual that we have two cases on flights very close together,” Gustafson said.

A total of nine people have contracted measles in the Lower Mainland since that first case was identified from the March 21 flight, she said.

All were either on the March 21 flight or had contact with someone aboard that flight.

Gustafson said about 300 passengers on the first flight were exposed to measles and she believes there were roughly the same number on Saturday's China/Airlines/Air Canada flight CA991/AC6601.

People on the latest flight who don't have their immunizations up to date should get a measles vaccination as soon as possible, she said.

“The purpose of that is so we don't have ongoing transmission,” Gustafson said.

The recent measles outbreak is a reminder that travellers should make sure they are up to date with their measles and other vaccinations, she said.

There have also been measles outbreaks in the U.S. and other parts of Canada, Gustafson noted.

She said China is a highly vaccinated country but has seen outbreaks of measles.

“It's an effective strategy to maintain a high level of vaccinations here in B.C.,” Gustafson said.

People born before 1957 are considered immune to measles and do not need a vaccine.

Those born between 1957 and 1970 should have one dose of the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, and those born after 19070 should have two doses of MMR, health officials say.

Some young adults born outside Canada may not be completely immunized against measles, so should make sure their inoculations are up to date.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that can be spread through the air.

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