No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Eight cases of measles have been confirmed in Vancouver. (Contributed)

You’ve seen the headlines, you’ve read the comments and you’ve watched the hysteria build.

Dr. Monika Naus, medical director of the Communicable Diseases and Immunization Services at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, explains exactly what the big deal is.

“There’s no treatment for measles, so if you get measles it’s your own body that has to cure you,” said Naus.

Measles is a virus, so antibiotics don’t work. According to Naus the most modern medicine can do for you is aid in the healing, but your body has to tackle the infection itself.

READ MORE: Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

READ MORE: Unvaccinated teens seek measles shot in wake of Vancouver outbreak

“If your lungs are full of measles virus and you’re in respiratory failure you can be put on a ventilator,” said Naus. “If you have a brain infection with measles … they can give you steroids to reduce swelling – but essentially it’s up to you to cure yourself.”

Measles is a highly infectious virus spread through airborne transmission making it that much easier to contract.

“You don’t need direct contact. You don’t need to be sharing spit, kissing, sharing – it’s airborne, so it’s that much more infectious.”

Because measles can spread so easily in susceptible populations it can cause exceedingly high numbers of cases.

“When you have high numbers of cases, you also wind up with a high number of cases with complications,” said Naus.

Measles can infect any part of the body and serious infection occurs when the virus spreads to a person’s lungs or brain.

READ MORE: Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

According to Naus there is debate around how fatal measles is, but it’s estimated from North American data about one in 300 cases result in death.

In 1996 Canada adopted the measles elimination goal as part of the Pan American Health Organization because it was recognized increasingly that measles elimination was achievable.

“We do get imported cases, sometimes a visitor or a Canadian returning from overseas and most of the time there’s no onward transmission if people around them are vaccinated,” said Naus. “If they go into a group of people with susceptible individuals that’s when we see transmission.”

According to Naus measles is still a big problem worldwide, particularly where children are malnourished coupled with little available treatment the virus is still killing hundreds of thousands of children worldwide.

Naus said while it is achievable to eliminate measles, it requires a demand from the public to be vaccinated and prevent the disease from spreading.

“There are people who believe that general health, eating nutritious foods and exercising is sufficient,” said Naus. “Yes – all those things help your immune system but they don’t provide you with specific immunity.”

The recent outbreak has been limited to a small group of schools in Vancouver and according to Naus there haven’t been anymore reported cases since Valentines Day.

“The incubation period for measles is up to 21 days so we won’t know whether there will be any additional cases until about the 7th of March,” said Naus.

For more information on how you can get vaccinate to protect against to measles virus visit immunizebc.ca/finder



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Salmon Arm Golf Club sold to consolidator GolfNorth Properties

Decision to sell unanimously approved by club’s board of directors

Shuswap Community Foundation grants support youth projects

Karen Angove Endowment Fund to benefit Shuswap Area Family Emergency (SAFE) Society

Shuswap resident seeks return of jewelry box containing father’s cremated remains

Sicamous RCMP report handmade box was stolen from a storage locker

Radon levels in new Salmon Arm home a concern

Real-time monitoring shows radon concentration just within federally accepted guideline

Salmon Arm family doctor shortage putting health-care needs at risk

City clinics report having long wait lists, not accepting new patients

Gym enthusiasts invited to get in gear for kids

Spin4Kids Saturday at GoodLife Fitness

Seguin lifts surging Stars to 4-2 win over Canucks

Dallas is 6-0-1 in last seven outings

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Malakwa woman still in the running for winning American baking show

Janet Letendre is the only Canadian competing on the Holiday Baking Championship

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

New Okanagan resident building skills and community

The Respect Works Here November Multicultural Community Champion

Salmon Arm businesses tipped off to Black Press advantage

Black Press Media hosts day of presentations for local business representatives

Business savy volunteers sought in North Okanagan

Community Futures looking for members to join advisory panel, board and loans committee

Most Read