Fraser Health takes extraordinary steps to contain measles outbreak

By on April 2, 2014


STOCK PHOTO BY STACY BARNETT
STOCK PHOTO BY STACY BARNETT

 

 

SURREY – Thanks to the leadership of chief medical health officer, Dr. Paul Van Buynder, the team of dedicated health-care providers at Fraser Health Authority and the increased uptake of vaccination, the current measles outbreak has been largely contained to the eastern regions of the Fraser Valley and members of that community.

“Dr. Van Buynder and Fraser Health have shown excellent guidance and management of this difficult situation,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “I applaud the professionalism and tireless efforts of the dedicated staff who have engaged in an open and respectful manner with the leaders, families and individuals in these affected communities. They inspire confidence in our public health system and demonstrate that by working together, we can all reduce the spread of these diseases.”

Since the outbreak was declared on March 8, 2014, Fraser Health has worked with schools, community groups, church groups, public health nurses and medical officers to investigate the outbreak and implement control measures such as setting up dedicated immunization clinics in public health and physician offices and urging people to get vaccinated.

This current measles outbreak in regions of the Fraser Valley (Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack, Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and Hope) is now entering its fourth week and while there are now cumulatively an estimated 320 cases, the spread of the virus into other communities has been limited. The level of risk to British Columbians outside of these communities is currently considered to be low.

“The devoted team at Fraser Health have co-ordinated an effective approach to the challenges of this outbreak and their efforts and expertise have resulted in it being largely contained to these communities,” said provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall. “This situation is a reminder that an outbreak like this one is avoidable with proper immunization. I encourage all British Columbians to get vaccinated as the best way to protect yourself against diseases like the measles.”

The measles outbreak is expected to continue for another two weeks as the second and third wave of the disease makes its way through the communities. Anyone who has symptoms or suspects they have contracted measles is encouraged to stay home until the symptoms are over.

Fraser Health will continue to update the public on the progress of the disease and B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, will provide additional updates as the need arises or as additional information becomes available.

For more information, please visit the BC Centre for Disease Control (one and two), Immunize BC, and the Fraser Health Authority.

Press release courtesy of the British Columbia Newsroom, 31 March 2014.