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

PG RCMP seeks information following third suspicious incident involving child

Most recent incident occurred near North Tabor Boulevard and Ospika Boulevard

Quesnel River Archers score top prizes in 100 Mile House

Six of eight shooters landed top five finishes

Quesnel joins global Youth Climate Strike

Twelve-year-old organizes Fridays for Future Strike

Bill passes to make Sept. 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley were in Ottawa for the vote

Quesnel’s new Forestry Initiatives Program up and running

Construction has also begun on the Forestry Innovation Centre at City Hall

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Nowhere to grieve: How homeless people deal with loss during the opioid crisis

Abbotsford homeless advocate says grief has distinct challenges for those living on the streets

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

B.C. public insurance includes funding enforcement, driver licensing

Most Read