Two new measles cases confirmed at N.B. high school
Health officials in New Brunswick say there are two new cases of measles in the province, bringing the number of confirmed cases to five.
All of the cases are in the Saint John area and the latest two, confirmed late Saturday, are linked to a previous confirmed case at Kennebecasis Valley High School.
The latest cases followed news on Friday of another confirmed case, the province's third, which was also linked to the school.
In a news release, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says public health officials are setting up a special immunization clinic aimed at those in the school population who haven't yet received a dose of vaccine within the last 28 days.
A previous immunization clinic was held at the school on Friday, and Russell says the new clinic will be offered for added protection as an outbreak control measure due to recent exposures.
“In the last week, we have immunized about 850 staff and students at Kennebecasis Valley High School, and another clinic will be offered (Sunday), to immunize those who have not yet received a dose of MMR,” said Dr. Russell.
Early symptoms of the measles virus may include fever, cough, or tiny white spots in the mouth. Within three to seven days, a red blotchy rash will appear, first on the face and then spreading to the body, arms and legs.
"I want to re-emphasize that, if these symptoms are present, it is important that you contact your health-care provider, Public Health or 811 by telephone prior to presenting to a clinic, physician's office or emergency room so that necessary measures can be put into place to prevent the spread to others," said Russell.
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 going to school.
On Sunday, Grade 11 students Brandon Parent and Taylor Greenlaw visited the clinic to get their shots, even though both have had two previous doses of the MMR vaccine.
“I didn’t get it on Friday because I fully disagreed with the fact that we needed a third vaccine, and I was told to today that I would not be able to come to school for 21 days,” says Brandon Parent. “I was also told I wouldn’t be able to enter the United States, so I’m basically forced at this point.”
Students say it has been an upsetting experience.
“We weren’t really given any information besides the fact, walking into school on Friday, them forcing us to get a needle or get out,” says Taylor Greenlaw. “It’s just chaotic, especially on Friday, it was chaos, that’s all anyone was talking about.”
The first confirmed case in the Saint John area involved a person who visited the Halifax Infirmary emergency room last month and later went to the ER and X-ray room at Saint John Regional Hospital. Officials later confirmed the first infected patient recently travelled internationally.
The second case was confirmed at Kennebecasis Valley High School.
Russell has previously confirmed that the first two cases were related.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV Atlantic’s Jessica Ng.