Alberta Health Services confirmed an individual infected with measles attended an event at Mount Royal University on March 12.
The individual visited several public places between March 5 and 12 in Cochrane and Calgary including the Bella Concert Hall for the speaker series, The Gifts of our Wounds: A Sikh and a Former White Supremacist Find Forgiveness after Hate, held between 7:30 and 11:30 p.m.
Mount Royal representative, Annalise Van Ham, vice-president of finance and administration, confirmed that exposure to measles at the school is limited to those who attended the event. Organizers estimate there were 400 attendees, all of whom were informed of the exposure directly.
AHS asks that anyone who suspects they’ve been infected or are wondering about their immunization history call Health Link at 811 for further assessment and more information.
In a written statement, Van Ham says the health and safety of people is the school’s main priority.
What is measles?
Measles is an airborne and highly contagious disease that spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
Dr. Jia Hu, medical officer of health for Calgary zone, says measles is the most contagious, infectious disease currently known to mankind.
“One person with measles can affect up to 15 or 20 people if they are susceptible,” Dr. Hu says.
There’s no treatment for measles but it can be prevented through immunization, which is free for all Albertans.
In Alberta, children usually receive their first dose of the measles vaccine at 12 months and the second between four and six years old.
Anyone who is uncertain of their own immunization history or their child’s can call Health Link at 811.
Dr. Hu says the people who are at risk are those who haven’t been immunized.
“To be considered not susceptible — not at risk for measles — you have to be born before … 1970 or have two documented doses of measles-containing vaccine,” he says.
Most people who are infected will experience cold-like symptoms but Dr. Hu says some people can experience more severe complications like pneumonia, brain swelling or even death.
Dr. Hu says measles is still an issue in countries like Canada for two reasons: increased international travel and vaccine hesitancy.
Vaccine hesitancy is seen in people who are either refusing or delaying the uptake of vaccines.
“As people do that, the overall immunity of the population declines,” Dr. Hu says.
“Because measles is so contagious, close to everyone in the population needs to be immunized to maintain that protective web.”
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