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

Crews extinguish mobile home fire in Thornhill

No injuries reported, cause under investigation

NARA partners with Kitsumkalum to spay and neuter cats

With a $16,000 total grant, traps were set to capture 42 feral felines

Fire ban back in effect for Northwest

Starting May 24, Category 2 and 3 prohibitions in place for NW Fire Centre

Nisga’a Nation tourism board hits the road

Pilot tour to the Nass Valley is set for this summer with Indigenous Tourism BC

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Most Read