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Measles outbreak declared in Calgary, Edmonton

A student receives a measles vaccine injection at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Ecublens near Lausanne March 23, 2009. Both the University of Lausanne (UNIL) and EFPL have started a three day vaccination campaign to help eradicate a growing Swiss measles epidemic, in which more than 28 cases were discovered in both schools, out of a total of 370 in Switzerland since the start of the year. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud (SWITZERLAND HEALTH EDUCATION) - RTXD413

© Valentin Flauraud / Reuters/REUTERS

With more new cases of measles being confirmed, Alberta health officials have declared an outbreak in Calgary, Edmonton and in central areas between the province's two major cities.

Alberta Health Services issued a warning Tuesday that the highly contagious disease had taken a foothold and that people showing signs of measles – runny nose, fever, cough, a red rash – should stay indoors.

On Monday, the AHS announced another case of measles had been confirmed in the Calgary zone. That gave Alberta 22 confirmed cases, not counting the recent outbreak in the Lethbridge area that was declared over in early January.

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Calgary has nine cases now. Monday's case was an adult. The AHS listed the various places the adult had visited to inform people they may have been exposed to measles.

Edmonton has six cases, with seven others found in Alberta's central zone.

A spokesperson for AHS said via e-mail that its "management of measles cases will not change as a result of this outbreak declaration. However, this outbreak declaration has allowed AHS to implement the expanded measles immunization eligibility (for children) … Our medical officers of health considered the need for expanding the immunization criteria, and in light of the continued recent cases, determined is was a necessary step to protect public health."

The changes to routine childhood immunization, as outlined by the AHS, are:

"Infants six months of age to less than 12 months of age are eligible for an early additional dose of measles vaccine. Infants who receive this additional early dose of vaccine will still be required to receive the two routinely recommended doses of measles vaccine, administered at 12 months of age and between four and six years of age.

"Children age four and older … and have not yet received their second dose are advised to receive it as soon as possible."

B.C.'s Fraser Valley had close to 400 confirmed cases of measles earlier this year before declaring its outbreak over.

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Sports writer

Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. More

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