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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Morning Start: The Exorcist film set was haunted

Your morning start for Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

No new COVID-19 cases in Kelowna over the weekend

Kelowna has nine of the Interior Health region’s 13 active cases

West Kelowna woman upset with RCMP response to street brawl

A physical altercation between a group of teens and a group of adults erupted on a West Kelowna street Sunday evening

UPDATE: Missing Kelowna teen located

Police are still looking to speak with the unidentified man she was spotted with

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans

Oh baby, what a birthday gift: $2.8M raised to help B.C. boy with rare disease

‘We are very thankful to everybody,’ Aryan Deol’s father says

‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

North Shore Black Bear Society said it was local residents who created a ‘death sentence’ for bear

Police investigating after insults, expletives yelled at federal minister’s staff

A 90-second video circulating on social media appears to have been shot by the person who was yelling

Lost dog reunited with family 3 months after going missing on remote B.C. trail

‘The poor thing was skin and bones,’ says one of its Vancouver Island rescuers

5 B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

B.C. marine ecologist wants Canada to sink its teeth into shark protection

Gulf Islands scientist says top predator under shocking threat from human behaviour

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Most Read