Another measles case confirmed in Saint John area, bringing total to nine
Health officials in New Brunswick have confirmed another case of measles in the Saint John area, bringing the total number of cases to nine.
The New Brunswick government says the latest case was confirmed late Monday and is linked to a previous confirmed case at Kennebecasis Valley High School.
This comes after three new cases were confirmed earlier Monday. Two of those cases were linked to the school, while the third was related to a visit to the emergency room at the Saint John Regional Hospital.
Despite seven cases of measles connected to the school, students here express confidence in the vaccine that was given to more than 950 classmates.
“There is a little bit of panic in some students and some parents, but I feel that the shots should relieve some of that stress and really, it shouldn't be that big of a deal anymore,” said Grade 12 student Simon Meagher.
Though, some are worried about 30 fellow students who did not get the booster shot and have to stay home.
"This is project week,” said Grade 12 student James Higgins. “We are all doing our final projects. I can't imagine this is easy for all the students who are stuck outside of school because they have no contact with the teachers or anything.”
Public Health says anyone who was at the ER on the following dates may have been exposed to the measles:
- May 19: 10:45 p.m. to 1:35 a.m.
- May 22: 8 p.m. to 11:05 p.m.
- May 24: 9:45 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
- May 25: 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
On Friday, public health officials issued a directive advising staff and students at Kennebecasis Valley High School that they must receive a measles booster shot if they want to continue working and studying at the school.
Dr. Tim Christie teaches medical ethics at Dalhousie Medical School in Saint John. He says excluding students on a temporary basis, is a reasonable step.
“I don't think anyone would reject the premise that we are all morally required to interrupt the spread of disease as best we can,” Christie said. “In those circumstances, it might make sense to say, please don't come to school today, or please stay home for a period of time or that type of thing, because all of us have the common goal of trying to get this measles outbreak under control.”
District school officials have also cancelled a number of out-of-province class trips as a result of the outbreak.
New Brunswick isn’t the only place dealing with a measles comeback. More than two dozen U.S. states are experiencing similar outbreaks including next door in the state of Maine.
Today Premier Blaine Higgs weighed in on making vaccinations, mandatory.
“Ithink, if it be in the daycare or the school system, this has to be something we look at -- it can't be optional,” Higgs said. “In a public system where others are at risk, there are protective measures that are well proven and we have to see that people are using them.”
As for making measles vaccinations mandatory, Christie is uncomfortable.
“That hard question of compulsory vaccinations, I can't see it in the context of measles, and like I said, it would have to be something really dire,” he said.
Far more dire, says Christie, than an outbreak of measles.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease and vaccination is the best possible protection.
In New Brunswick, the vaccine that protects against measles is free of charge for babies aged 12 and 18 months. Adults born in 1970 or later can receive free measles, mumps and rubella vaccines if they have not already had two doses. Adults born before 1970 are considered immune to measles.
Early symptoms of the virus may include fever, cough or tiny white spots in the mouth. Within three to seven days, a red rash will appear, first on the face and then spreading to the body, arms and legs.
Russell said anyone who believes they have symptoms should call 811 to get advice on what to do. She said anyone who potentially has the measles should not show up at an emergency department or their doctor's office unannounced.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.