Increasing risk of measles

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A graphic of someone receiving a needle in their upper arm. The person giving the injection is wearing blue gloves and a lab coat, and the liquid in the syringe is tinged pink.
I’m going to be the next German man getting 217 COVID shots, but with the measles vaccine… HtcHnm via Pixabay, manipulated by lee lim

Do your part and you too can stay safe from measles

In an email from Student Affairs on March 28, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) warned of an increasing risk of measles.

Measles is a highly contagious infection spread by air. Someone with measles can spread it by coughing, sneezing, or sharing food and drinks, and you can contract measles by breathing infected air or eating and drinking infected foods.

This is not to scare anyone, however. Contracting measles is highly preventable through vaccination, masking, and the cooperation of those who think they may have been exposed to measles or are showing symptoms.

Mayo Clinic describes measles as a childhood infection that “spreads easily and can be serious or even fatal for small children. […] Most recent measles cases in the U.S. originated outside the country and occurred in people who were unvaccinated or who didn’t know whether or not they had been vaccinated.”

According to the SHA, measles is a virus that causes a rash all over the body. Initial symptoms include a high fever, running nose, sneezing, sore throat, coughing, swelling of the lymph nodes in your neck, tiredness, diarrhea, and red, sore eyes. After these symptoms go down, tiny white spots will appear inside the mouth, followed by a full-body rash.

Symptoms appear around one to two weeks, or 7-14 days, after exposure. Adults tend to experience symptoms at a worse severity than children who get it. So, staying up to date on vaccinations is essential.

The email sent out by Student Affairs said, “The virus remains active and contagious in the air for up to two hours. The best way to protect yourself from measles is through vaccination. Two doses of a measles-containing vaccine is 97 per cent effective at preventing the disease. If not up to date on their vaccinations, anyone can spread and catch measles.”

The email goes on to write that eligibility for publicly-funded measles vaccinations depends on a person’s date of birth. Babies are eligible for two doses of a measles vaccine like the Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Varicella (MMRV) vaccine, with a dose given at 12 months and then 18 months.

Adults born in 1970 and onwards are eligible for two vaccinations. If you were born between 1957 and 1969 and travelling outside of Canada, you are eligible for one dose. For anyone born before 1957, no vaccination is required. Students of healthcare professions are eligible for two doses no matter their birth year.

The email ends by reminding everyone that Saskatchewan residents can access their vaccination records on the MySaskHealthRecord website. Anyone 14 or over can register for an account. To register, you will need your health card, some form of picture ID on hand, and an email address.

Prevention is good, but what if you contract measles or come into contact with someone who later finds out they have measles? The SHA suggests calling a healthcare provider to describe your symptoms before you physically go to healthcare facilities. This will decrease potential exposure to others if you are infected, and allow you to remain home and comfortable while you make the call.

The at-home treatment for measles is similar to that for the common cold: medicine to lower the fever, rest, and drinking lots of fluids. Additionally, the SHA advises staying away from other people as much as possible and staying out of public spaces for at least four days after the rash first appears.

This includes work, grocery shopping, friend activities, and anything that requires being close to anyone else. Essentially, self-isolate if you suspect you have measles or have confirmation that you do, just like you should with any other contagious illness.

Stay safe, stay vaccinated, and stay healthy everyone!

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