Canada’s Capital Region in and around Ottawa, Ontario, and Fraser Valley in British Columbia have both experienced recent occurrences or outbreaks of the measles (also known as rubeola or red measles) virus among college and primary students.
Measles was once considered a common disease, but can have some serious complications for all age groups.
Facts about Measles
“Measles occurs throughout the world and remains a serious and common disease in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, measles is a leading cause of vaccine preventable deaths in children worldwide ... Measles was eliminated in the WHO Region of the Americas in 2002 ... Since that time, there have been small numbers of imported and import-related cases in the Americas ... However, in 2011, this region [the Americas] had reported the highest number of measles cases since the virus was eliminated.” (2)
Measles is a respiratory disease since the measles virus grows in the cells lining the back of the throat and lungs. (3)
Signs and Symptoms of Measles
According to the Mayo Clinic & WebMD, signs and symptoms of measles include:
• Fever (mild to start, but up to 104 with the onset of rash)
• Dry cough
• Runny nose
• Sore throat
• Swollen lymphnodes
• Inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis)
• Light sensitivity
• Tiny white spots with bluish-white center inside the mouth on the inner lining of the cheek (Koplik’s spots)
• A skin rash that starts at the hairline and progresses down the rest of the body
Transmission of the virus occurs when a person comes in contact with saliva from someone with measles, or with an infected person who sneezes, breathes or coughs.
The incubation period for the virus, after exposure, is 8-12 days before the first symptoms of mild fever, dry cough, runny nose, and sore throat appear. Transmission usually happens before an infected person even knows he/she has the disease and may just assume he or she has a cold.
A person is contagious for four days before the rash appears and for four days after the rash appears.