Vancouver - Two separate sets of flights through Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in late February had infectious cases of measles aboard. Passengers who shared the flight(s) or were at the airport at the same time as the ill passengers may have been exposed to measles. Each of the two cases were confirmed on March 3rd, one by Alberta Health laboratory, and one by BCCDC laboratory.
1. The BC Centre for Disease Control has been notified by Alberta Health about a case of measles in an individual who travelled from Taipei through Vancouver (YVR) International airport, and on to Edmonton.
Details of the flights which arrived in/ departed from Vancouver on February 24th 2017 are as follows:
- China Airlines CI0032 departing Taipei (taoyuan) at 23:40 hrs, arriving in Vancouver at 18:10 hrs local time
- WestJet Flight WS 412 departing from Vancouver to Edmonton at 22:20 hrs
In addition to potential exposure on the flights, exposures may have occurred at the airport at the baggage pick-up and drop-off, immigration/ customs, food court, security, and boarding gate.
2. A measles case was confirmed on March 3rd in an individual who travelled from Mexico City to Vancouver (YVR) International airport on Air Canada flight #997 on February 27th (departing Mexico at 0600 hrs). Passengers who shared the flight(s) or were at the airport at the same time as the ill passenger may have been exposed to measles.
In addition to potential exposure on the flights, exposures may have occurred at the airport at the immigration entry point or international terminal baggage pick-up where the passenger waited for luggage until 12:30 hrs.
Some potentially exposed passengers may have been traveling to other destinations including within Canada.
While it is expected that the majority of travelers will be immune to measles, this advisory is being posted in the event that additional cases of measles with an exposure history compatible with this case come to light in the coming weeks or may become aware of this exposure and seek post exposure advice.
Measles is a highly infectious disease transmitted by airborne spread.
The incubation period (time to develop symptoms after being exposed) for measles is about 10 days but ranges from 7 – 21 days. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, and red eyes, followed by a rash that starts centrally including on the face and spreads to the limbs and lasts at least three days. Measles can be a serious infection and is very infectious to others.
If you travelled on this flight or were at the airport during this time period, check your immunization status. You are most at risk of measles infection from this flight if you are completely unvaccinated against measles (including infants under 1 year old) and have never had measles disease. If you are born in 1970 and later, to be protected against measles you should have received two doses of measles-containing vaccine (often given as combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine or MMR). Those born prior to 1970 are likely to be immune to measles through a prior measles infection.
If you were a passenger on this flight and were unimmunized, or not fully immunized, or have not had measles in the past, you may wish to contact your local public health unit for advice about measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with measles or spreading it to others. You should also watch for symptoms of measles for up to 21 days (three weeks) after the flight. If you become ill with any of the above symptoms and fever, and suspect you may have measles, call your doctor and inform them that you may have been exposed to measles, so that s/he will arrange to see you in a manner that avoids infecting other patients in the waiting room.
The BC Centre for Disease Control advises British Columbians to review their immunization status prior to travel. Measles is considered eliminated in Canada but is a common infection in many parts of the world. The best time to protect yourself is before you travel. For more information see ImmunizeBC.ca
The BC Centre for Disease Control, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides public health leadership through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. The Centre provides diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance, and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities. The BCCDC also provides health promotion and prevention services to reduce the burden of chronic disease and preventable injury. For more, visit www.bccdc.ca or follow us on Twitter @CDCofBC.
The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit www.phsa.ca or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.
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