OHS Canada Magazine

Officials say person with measles flew from Vancouver to Edmonton to NWT

February 26, 2019
By The Canadian Press
Occupational Hygiene Transportation british columbia exposure measles occupational health and safety Public Health & Safety

VANCOUVER – Two new cases of measles were reported in British Columbia on Sunday, with one of them prompting officials in Alberta and the Northwest Territories to warn the person may have exposed others to the infection as they travelled.

A spokesman with the Vancouver International Airport said the first case arrived on a Philippine Airlines flight from Manila on Feb. 11, and another person with measles departed Vancouver on an Air Canada flight to Edmonton the following day.

Chris Devauld did not know whether the passenger on the Philippine Airlines flight left Vancouver on another flight or stayed, nor did he know whether the Edmonton-bound passenger had arrived in Vancouver from another destination.

Meantime, officials in Alberta and the Northwest Territories both issued warnings to people who may have been in contact with the passenger who flew to Edmonton.

Alberta Health Services said in a news release that an individual with a lab-confirmed case of measles who arrived on the Air Canada flight then rode in an airport shuttle to a hotel in nearby Leduc.


The health agency said that person visited a Walmart in Leduc later that day, and left Edmonton on a Canadian North flight for Inuvik, N.W.T., on Feb. 13.

Officials in the Northwest Territories also issued a statement, warning that a person flew to Inuvik from an “international destination” on Feb. 13, and that the person’s travels also took them through Yellowknife and Norman Wells, N.W.T., the same day.

Damien Healy, a spokesman for N.W.T. Health and Social Services, confirmed in an email that it was the same person who flew from Vancouver to Edmonton.

Vancouver Coastal Health said in a news release that the passenger who arrived on the flight from the Philippines and the passenger who departed for Edmonton both acquired measles while travelling abroad.

The agency said one of the people lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health area while the other was passing through Vancouver’s airport on the way to Edmonton and later to the N.W.T. It said earlier in the day on Twitter the two news cases were not related to others connected to schools in the region.

Health officials in B.C. have been investigating nearly a dozen measles cases in the Vancouver area.

Many of them have been at two French-language schools in Vancouver, a cluster that began after an unvaccinated B.C. child contracted the disease during a family trip to Vietnam.

“Frankly, people shouldn’t be getting measles in the 21st century in British Columbia and we have the means to deal with that,” B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said at a news conference Sunday where he stressed the need for people to be immunized. “I don’t think, in my view anyway, enough people are immunized in B.C.”

Health officials in both Alberta and the Northwest Territories advised people who aren’t vaccinated for measles and who may have been on board flights, in shuttles, at stores or hotels where the affected person was present to monitor themselves for symptoms.

Measles at first presents with flu-like symptoms, but then a fever develops followed by the distinctive rash.

“Measles is an extremely contagious disease, spread easily through the air. There is no treatment for measles; however, it can be prevented through immunization,” the AHS news release said.

Copyright (c) 2019 The Canadian Press


Stories continue below