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All 3 measles cases in Halifax linked but source not yet known, says health official

Public health officials in the Halifax area are trying to determine the source of three cases of measles — the first confirmed instances of the highly contagious illness in Nova Scotia since 2008.

Dr. Trevor Arnason, medical officer of health for Halifax, Eastern Shore and West Hants, said it’s rare to see cases of measles in Nova Scotia.

“Measles has been eliminated within the province so there isn’t generally transmission here,” he said Tuesday. “So it’s usually a traveller or someone who’s linked to travel outside of the province or usually the country.”

All 3 cases linked

The first of the three new cases was confirmed Feb. 9.

All three of the cases are linked and the people affected are known to each other. They all live in the Halifax area, but Arnason said they “did travel somewhat within the province,” meaning it’s possible cases could pop up in other areas.

Arnason would not identify the affected people, only to say they are young adults.

“There isn’t a particular group such as a daycare or a hospital setting specifically that we’re concerned about,” he said. “But we’re contacting the contacts of the three individuals at all the places they have been.”

Source of infection unknown

Arnason said it’s not immediately clear how the trio became infected.

“We couldn’t find a travel connection,” he said.

“We’re exploring some possibilities of one of the individuals having travelled outside of the province. We’re unsure if that is where it started, but we’re going to continue to investigate that and make sure that there isn’t another traveller or someone who has brought it in and made these individuals ill.”

Measles is a viral illness that can cause fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes, sleepiness and irritability. People with the illness can also develop small white spots inside their mouths and throats, as well as red blotches on their face that spread down the body.

Measles can lead to serious complications

Most people fully recover within two to three weeks. However, measles can have serious complications for young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

People who’ve been vaccinated against measles can still fall ill, though Arnason it is generally a milder illness.

Anyone with symptoms is asked to call their public health office or 811. Before seeing a doctor, anyone with symptoms should call ahead to make sure the health-care provider is prepared to see a person with measles.

“The reason being because measles is so contagious it could be spread to other people waiting in the waiting room,” Arnason said. 

Article source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/measles-public-health-symptoms-halifax-virus-viral-contagious-1.3982194?cmp=rss